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Future of EV sales: direct-to-consumer vs franchise dealers — Matt VanDyke | Shift Digital

In recent years, the retail automotive industry has seen dramatic changes in the ways consumers shop for and purchase electric vehicles (EVs), challenging the traditional franchised model with direct-to-consumer sales. Today on Inside Automotive, Matt VanDyke, President of Shift Digital and former CEO of FordDirect, elaborates on the future of EV sales for consumers, dealers, and OEMs alike.

VanDyke earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from Miami University before starting his career with Team One. He also held various leadership positions within Ford Motor Company, including U.S. Marketing Director, VP of Marketing for Ford of Europe, and Director of Lincoln Global Marketing, Sales and Service. Starting in 2021, he became the CEO of FordDirect, the data hub for Ford and Lincoln dealerships. Today, he is the President of Shift Digital, an automotive digital marketing and analytics provider. As President, VanDyke works with the leadership team on business strategy, product portfolio expansion, and client support and development.

Key takeaways:

1. The direct-to-consumer model, pioneered by Tesla and followed by brands like Rivian, involves customers transacting directly with the company, primarily online, unlike the traditional franchise dealer model where transactions are with a local franchise dealer.

2. The success of Tesla is attributed more to its innovative product rather than its EV sales process. While Tesla’s online, frictionless buying experience initially offered a competitive edge, many companies now offer similar digital retailing tools, reducing that advantage.

3. In scenarios where supply exceeds demand, having a franchise dealer network is beneficial as it helps with local merchandising, marketing, and dynamic pricing of vehicles, offering a competitive advantage to OEMs.

4. OEMs are reevaluating the need for exclusive EV sales networks and considering more traditional dealership models. This is driven by the realization that demand may not always match supply and the need for transparent, but not necessarily fixed, pricing.

5. Most dealers now employ digital retailing tools on their websites, enhancing the car buying experience. However, customers still value physical interactions, such as test drives, especially with EVs, where they often have more questions and considerations.

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Anna Delvillar
Anna Delvillar
Anna is the editorial and programming coordinator at CBT News. She graduated with a B.A. in English Composition from Georgia State University. She is an enthusiastic and skilled media professional with high-caliber communication skills, and has five years of experience performing multimedia writing, editing, and publishing for automotive, tech, and small business media.

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