As electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, more and more EV startups are following Telsa’s example of the direct-to-consumer style of sales, cutting out what many consider to be the auto-sales middleman: dealerships. While dealerships offer the customer certain advantages (an array of vehicle options, the ability to test drive multiple models on the spot, the convenience of driving your purchase off the lot on the same day), the experience of visiting a dealership to negotiate a sale is also something many of us dread.
“The consumer experience and the consumer journey is too precious to delegate to a third party,” Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s CEO, told investors during an earnings call in November 2021. The auto consultancy Berylls said the benefits would include the potential to provide a better buying experience, cut the haggling shoppers hate, and reduce overhead costs.
This approach does come with inconveniences. Because most states require that cars be sold through dealers, these automakers must appeal to franchise laws and dealer lobbyists to run stores, physical or digital, wherever they want to operate.
If the direct-to-consumer experience sounds appealing to you, here are the options available right now for you to consider—with all the logistical caveats to be aware of, depending on where you live.
The idea of cutting out the dealership is not new, but Tesla is probably the first manufacturer to have done it successfully. You can go on Tesla’s website, choose the model you’re interested in, fully customize it, and order it to be delivered directly to your home. There is no need to go to a dealership if you live in California, Colorado, Virginia, or New Hampshire because they allow costumers to buy Teslas directly, without the assistance of a dealership, according to Yahoo Finance.
Tesla also currently has 36 “stores” or “galleries,” where you can physically see the cars and learn about the benefits of buying a Tesla. However, some federal and state laws can restrict these galleries from selling the cars or even discussing their prices.
While some laws can make it hard for Tesla to sell directly to the costumer, they have tried to work around the issue. If you live in a state that doesn’t allow for direct-to-consumer sales, Tesla gives you three options: Express Delivery to a Tesla delivery center in a state that allows it; Tesla Direct shipping to an address you provide within 220 miles of an existing Tesla delivery center; or Carrier Direct, in which you get an independent shipper to have your vehicle delivered to you regardless of where you reside for a fee.
Another electric vehicle company, Polestar, offers a lot of the same services as Tesla. You can customize and order a Polestar 2 completely online without ever stepping food on a dealership lot. As long as you live within a 150-mile radius of a “Polestar Space,” you can have the vehicle delivered to you. Otherwise, you’ll have to get an independent carrier to bring you the car for a fee, according to Cars.com.
You can find more information about Polestar’s delivery information in their FAQ here.
Lucid is an American electric vehicle manufacturing company founded in 2007 that also sells vehicles directly to customers online and at “Lucid Studios,” but only in states in which Lucid is licensed to conduct sales. Currently, Lucid has three vehicle models: Lucid Air Touring, Grand Touring, and Dream Edition.
Rivian, founded in 2009, is another American electric vehicle manufacturer that allows you to custom-build your car and skips the middleman. They currently have the R1T, a fully electric pickup truck, and the R1S, the second model and fully electric SUV.