by Pete Levy

Whether dreadful or joyous, car shoppers have dealership experiences, and the new vehicle salesperson is fundamental to a poor, good, or excellent car buying experience. Based on how they’ve been covered in the media and on how many Tesla S models have been sold, you’d think that Tesla would have a consistent and stellar dealership experience. And you’d be wrong.

The research firm Pied Piper just released a dealership satisfaction study. Between July 2013 and June 2014 they logged 5,671 dealership shopping experiences, including visits to 49 Tesla dealership locations in areas where the dealership was able to sell a car on the spot.

Tesla did not score in the top ten. Or top twenty. In fact, Tesla was dead last on the list with a score of 86 points.

The study found that the buying experience was inconsistent across Tesla locations. In most cases, Tesla employees were knowledgeable about the product, as you would expect – Tesla hires people with passion for electric vehicles in general and Tesla vehicles in particular. However, at many of the locations product knowledge was where the salesperson’s help and expertise ended – they performed miserably in actually helping a prospect buy the vehicle. In their words, there are “many more Tesla dealerships with salespeople who know their product inside and out, but don’t bother to figure out what’s important to their shoppers, or proactively take steps to help them become owners.”

If you’re buying or leasing a new vehicle—whether an entry level Kia or a top-end Tesla, your experience is heavily influenced by the salesperson you encounter. In this context, the power is out for Tesla.

As always, remember the Boy Scout motto when car buying and “be prepared.”

P.S. The top 10 brands were Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, Lexus, Cadillac, Hyundai, smart, Toyota, Jaguar, Kia, and Volkswagen.

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