These are the brands that made car shopping better in 2020.
Cars are not only more advanced than they've ever been, but the way we buy them has been transformed as well. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic this year, automakers have accelerated the implementation of digital tools to allow for the safe and engaging purchase of new vehicles, such as the Lincoln Showcase service, while Ford has followed Tesla's lead by allowing Mustang Mach-E customers to buy their vehicles in a process that takes place entirely online. To see if this approach has worked, J.D. Power has just released the results of its 2020 US Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, and it proves that shopping patterns have changed this year.
In this, the 35th year of the SSI study, J.D. Power put a greater focus on digital retail activities such as selecting a vehicle from inventory, completing paperwork, and obtaining credit approval. When the effects of the pandemic were really being felt initially, all these activities saw a big jump. But which automakers were best able to adapt to the new normal?
Based on the results, Lincoln's efforts saw positive outcomes as the brand came out on top among luxury nameplates for sales satisfaction with a score of 827, followed by Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, both on 826.
The luxury brand average score was 816, with Genesis coming in last (773) - that's hardly what the Korean automaker would want to hear in a year that saw the reveal of key products like the GV70 SUV. Interestingly, Tesla was rated for the first time at 804, but the EV automaker's score comes with an asterisk because it does not allow J.D. Power to survey owners in 15 required states. Tesla's score is based on surveys from 35 other states.
Mass-market brands saw Mini come out on top with a score of 824, followed by GMC (804), Buick (803), and Ford (798); next year, Ford will launch its Blue Advantage platform to make buying a used Ford even easier.
The average for mass-market brands was 784, and automakers that struggled here were all from within the Fiat Chrysler stable. These low-ranked brands included Jeep (768), Ram (768), Chrysler (756), and Fiat (756). Other interesting takeaways include the fact that buyers who completed paperwork online rated the experience as higher by 35 points compared to buyers who did the same thing offline.
Customers were most satisfied when sales consultants understood their specific requirements and when their vehicle was delivered in a spotless condition. The study's results were based on key factors including - in order of importance - the delivery process, dealer staff, finalizing the deal, and completion of paperwork.