Thursday, June 13, 2024

How electric cars are killing the ancient art of haggling

The new sales model was pioneered by the all-electric evangelists such as Elon Musk and Volvo’s pure battery spin-out Polestar.

Anyone wanting to buy a Tesla in Britain simply visits its website, chooses the car and the specification they want for a pre-agreed, non-negotiable price, and waits for it to be delivered to one of more than 40 Tesla showrooms spread across the country.

Much to the dismay of car dealers everywhere, this approach is rapidly catching on. Where only a handful of electric vehicle makers had previously ventured, the big manufacturers are now daring to tread too.

At first, some carmakers such as Volkswagen tested the water with electric models. Then last year, Mercedes made the bombshell announcement that it was adopting the model across its entire range, having tested it in Australia first.

A slew of others including Ford and BMW have said they plan to follow suit. VW has said it will roll out the approach across big brands such as Audi and Skoda.

Asked what prompted the move, Gary Savage, the boss of Mercedes’ UK arm, explained at the time that the internet and smartphones had changed customer buying habits. An agency model “provides a consistent and transparent purchase journey” and initial feedback showed customers were largely supportive, he said.

The shift is partly predicated on the assumption that while everyone loves a bargain, most people quietly dread the prospect of haggling with a fast-talking, commission-hungry sales rep over the price of a car.

There are numerous surveys and polls showing that people dislike the general hassle of buying a car, but it’s the hard-sell and inevitable bartering that customers despise most.


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