Lincoln and Mini were the top-rated automotive brands in terms of sales satisfaction in their respective categories, per J.D. Power.
Lincoln ranks highest in sales satisfaction among luxury brands, with a score of 827. Lexus (826) and Mercedes-Benz (826) rank second in a tie.
Mini ranks highest in sales satisfaction among mass market brands with a score of 824. GMC (804) ranks second and Buick (803) ranks third.
Tesla, profiled for the first time, receives a score of 804. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study because it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required. However, Tesla’s score was calculated based on a sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states.
The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters (those who shop a dealership and purchase elsewhere).
Buyer satisfaction is based on six factors (in order of importance): delivery process (28%); dealer personnel (21%); working out the deal (19%); paperwork completion (19%); dealership facility (10%); and dealership website (4%). Rejecter satisfaction is based on five factors: salesperson (28%); price (27%); negotiation (18%); dealership facility (14%); and variety of inventory (13%).
The study is based on responses from 35,816 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle from January through June 2020. The study was fielded from July through October 2020. Now in its 35th year, it was redesigned for 2020 to place a much greater emphasis on digital retail and remote buying.
Digital retail activities measured in the study include the ability to select vehicle from inventory; receive credit approval; review F&I products; agree on purchase price; and complete purchase paperwork. All saw a spike during the onset of the pandemic and, while many declined in the May-June timeframe, all are still up nearly 50% from January.
Decreased showroom traffic caused by COVID-19 shutdowns fast-tracked dealer adoption of remote selling capabilities, per the study.
“The pandemic provided dealers with a wide-open path to allow different approaches to sell vehicles outside of their traditional showroom sales process,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power.
It’s revealing that 44% of online shoppers are now selecting the exact vehicle they want from inventory on a dealer’s website, which is an increase of 13 percentage points from January of this year, he says.
“The more shoppers are exposed to remote communication and actual online buying options, the more they may prefer these methods in the future over traditional showroom visits to wade through inventory and negotiate,” Sutton says.
In fact, nearly one in four buyers say their purchase experience during the pandemic will make them less likely to shop in person in the future, indicating that digital retail processes are here to stay, he says.