Dealers still dominant, even in developed countries

Most consumers would prefer an in-person experience when purchasing their next vehicle, according to the 2022 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.

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However, the study concluded that there is still significant potential for virtual sales processes to grow.

In response to the question, “How would you most prefer to acquire your next vehicle?”, 80% of Southeast Asia respondents indicated they would prefer to acquire it in person, 78% in Germany, 75% in the US, 74% in Japan, 72% in China, 71% in the Republic of Korea and 68% in India agreed.

Only a small percentage of respondents in these seven countries indicated their preference to acquire their next vehicle fully virtually.

The Deloitte study did not include any countries in Africa.

Respondents from India had the highest level of preference for a fully virtual vehicle purchasing experience at 10%, followed by the US (6%), the Republic of Korea (5%), Germany (4%), China (4%) and Southeast Asia and Japan both at 3%.

In most countries, consumers who plan to purchase virtually would prefer to buy from dealers, except in Japan where 49% of consumers expressed a preference to buy directly from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

In Southeast Asia 63% of consumers indicated that they would prefer to acquire their next vehicle virtually via an authorised dealer but this percentage declines to 57% for consumers in China, 56% in India, 52% in the Republic of Korea, 50% in Germany, 48% in the US and 31% in Japan.

Convenience, coupled with ease of use and speed, is the main reason for consumers to consider a virtual process for acquiring their next vehicle.

These three reasons were cited by 90% of consumers in the Republic of Korea as the main reasons why they would acquire their next vehicle via a virtual process, followed by Japan (86%), India (82%), Germany (82%), China (81%), the US (80%), and Southeast Asia (66%).

The US has the highest percentage of consumers indicating that the reason they wished to buy their next vehicle via a virtual process was because of a desire to avoid going to a dealer at 8%, followed by Southeast Asia (6%), Germany (5%), China (4%), Japan (4%), India (2%) and the Republic of Korea (2%).

Personal vehicles are the preferred mobility choice across markets, particularly in the US, with public transport the second most preferred mode in South Korea and Japan, Deloitte says.

COVID-19 has had a relatively higher impact on Indian and Southeast Asian consumers with regard to their future vehicle intentions.

In India, 45% of consumers intend to acquire a vehicle to avoid public transport and 31% in Southeast Asia, followed by China (23%), the US (14%), the Republic of Korea (13%), Germany (11%) and Japan (10%).

Consumer interest in battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is highest in South Korea, China and Germany, while Japanese consumers prefer hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

However, internal combustion engines (ICE) still dominate future intentions in the US, where 69% of consumers indicated that gas/diesel (ICE) was the powertrain preference for their vehicle compared to 66% in Southeast Asia, 58% in both China and India, 49% in Germany, 39% in Japan and 37% in the Republic of Korea.

Deloitte says that people are largely drawn to an electric vehicle (EV) because of an expectation of lower fuel costs, or they are concerned about climate change and want to reduce emissions.

However, a better driving experience was cited by Chinese consumers as the second most important reason to acquire an EV after concerns about climate change/reduced emissions.

Lower fuel costs were the fourth most important reason for Chinese consumers to acquire an EV after concern about personal health in third place.

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