A recent survey by Pied Piper – a retail service tracking company – suggests that electric-exclusive automakers are lagging behind rival premium brands when it comes to customers' overall experience. The Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PVI) takes into account 70 "best-practice behaviors" to get a handle on the retail service performance of automotive brands.
According to Pied Piper, 60 percent of a brand's score comes from categories related to in-person services, and 40 percent is based on internet-response categories. The company looks at factors, such as how quickly dealerships respond to requests, the attentiveness of salespeople, and the availability of financing options. However, Pied Piper shares that it uses different factors for EV-only brands since their sales methods don't typically mirror those of traditional franchised dealerships.
Some EV-only and startup automakers don't yet have a notable network of physical locations, so their in-person scores were calculated via phone conversations. This was the case with electric pickup truck maker Rivian.
At any rate, based on Pied Piper's survey results surrounding 25 premium automotive brands, EV-only brands Lucid, Polestar, Rivian, and Tesla scored an average of 27 percent below the industry average. Moreover, these brands were all ranked in the bottom quarter of Pied Piper's PSI rankings. Tesla was the most successful, though it still ranked 21 out of 25.
Automotive News says Tesla's in-person score has dropped about 18 percent since 2019. The survey also revealed that Tesla's biggest issues came from a lack of helping customers understand electric cars, especially related to their pros and cons, along with details related to national charging networks. However, regardless of the drop, Tesla's sales haven't suffered. In fact, despite mounting obstacles, Tesla is leading all premium brands in sales through Q2 2022.
Pied Piper CEO Fran O'Hagan estimates that Tesla's success can only last so long if customers continue to be unhappy. He shared via Automotive News:
"If there are five customers for every car and you treat them terribly, that's not going to make much difference. But as soon as there are one half for every car, then all of a sudden you have a problem. A brand like Tesla is going to find that it is extremely important how they interact with their customers — they won't just get a pass."
The survey goes on to suggest that EV-only brands also exhibit subpar performance related to their responsiveness to online inquiries. According to Pied Piper's data, Polestar earned a score that's 76 percent below the industry average and Rivian scored about 35 percent below the average.
O'Hagan believes these electric-only startup automakers are putting too much emphasis on their products and not enough on consumers. He goes so far as to say he thinks the brands' leader don't value their customers or other "non-sexy" components of the business model.