March 2022

Building on the findings of last year's “Benchmark Study: Online Car Sales 2021”, we again monitored and assessed the current worldwide state of new online car sales. As this study proves, new car online sales continue to be a hot topic in the automotive industry.

The online sales trend for new cars is not a short-term trend triggered by the pandemic in 2020 but a sustainable development based on continuously evolving buying behaviors of automotive customers. Accelerated digitalization in car manufacturers and a shift in mindsets have enabled car manufacturers to adapt to this buying behavior. Virtual reality (VR) and other new technologies further support these changes.

In 30 seconds

  • Markets: USA, China, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain
  • Products: New Cars only
  • Platform: OEM shops only
  • Makes: TOP 10 OEMs in retail sales plus three selected makes
  • Total shops: 92 in 7 markets

Key Insights

  • Tesla remains on top and provided the leading practice in all assessed markets.
  • China, Germany, and Spain have the most identified online shops.
  • The number of online shops assessed almost doubled (+94%) compared to 2021.
  • Polestar is the second-best scoring manufacturer, closely behind Tesla.
  • There are significant quality differences between the assessed markets.
  • Premium and volume OEMs provide online shops of comparable quality.

Study Results – Management Summary

Tesla remains the global champion of direct sales but now has a challenger with a similar business model: Polestar. Polestar provides a very mature online shop with superb usability and design that challenges Tesla.

In this year's study, the number of online shops in the assessed markets almost doubled, from 31 to 60, compared to the 2021 study, disclosing a very dynamic 2022 online sales market. Fourteen new OEMs were identified selling their new cars online. Here, first brands are introducing a blueprint solution meaning an online shop solution that can be used for multiple brands and markets for faster scaling.

The biggest market growth was found in France, Italy, and Spain, which closed the gap towards their European pendants. Germany and Spain top Europe in terms of available online shops. China remains the number one market for online sales in terms of quantity.

Tesla is still the only OEM running online shops in all assessed markets. In the hunt are Polestar and Mercedes-Benz, providing respectable online shops in the analysis. A large number of new volume OEMs like Citroen, Renault and FIAT launched online shops in all European markets.

Since an increasing number of OEMs are offering online purchases by the year, differentiation is getting harder. The mere availability of an online shop is no longer a differentiator. Brands can only differentiate themselves by providing leading practices in user experience and design, combined with a seamlessly integrated outstanding service quality. For instance, this can be found in the Lucid car configurator in the USA and the Tesla order tracking.

Like last year, differences can be found marketwise, with OEMs providing fundamentally different online shops in different markets, especially when comparing Europe, China, and the USA. The creation and rollout of a global blueprint seem to be challenging. Nevertheless, we have identified that inside of Europe, OEMs have started to introduce such a blueprint solution.

Transforming your automotive sales – recommendations

It is not enough to have a low-quality online shop for the sake of having an online shop, and a bad experience is worse than no experience. Quality must be high! You can use the BearingPoint benchmarking methodology, including customer research, to assess your position in the market and identify development opportunities of leading practices.

It is still reasonable to learn from local pilots, but global governance and a scaling concept must be defined. A sales process readiness assessment could be performed to make strategic decisions regarding online sales technologies and processes and whether a transformational or a greenfield approach is more feasible for your cooperation.

Stand out from the competition in the new car sales world and push 3D modeling and VR experiences, learning from other industries. BearingPoint can support you in identifying the roadmap to next-generation online sales, including a VR showroom that brings the dealership right to the customer's home.

  • Study New Car Online Sales 2022
    Study New Car Online Sales 2022 843.16 KB Download

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