When it comes to buying a car, many consumers will think of going to offline 4S stores. However, in recent years, many 4S store practitioners have said that "business pressure is high" and "life is not good". According to the 2022 National Automobile Dealer Survival Survey Report released by the China Automobile Dealers Association, the loss of automobile dealers last year increased compared with 2021, followed by the closure of many traditional 4S stores.

Once the first choice for consumers to buy cars, why is it no longer so popular? Our reporter paid a visit to this.

Why is the 4S store, which used to be the main channel for buying cars, cold?

Luo Yi, who has worked in a 4S store in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province for more than 10 years, recently experienced the closure of the store. "As soon as I graduated from university, I worked in this 4S store and worked in car sales for more than ten years. Now that the store is closed, all the merchandise cars and test drives have been emptied in a few nights. He said.

In the past, 4S stores were the first choice for many consumers when buying cars. 4S stores not only sell complete vehicles, but also sell products and services such as spare parts. However, in recent years, many people feel that 4S stores seem to be less popular.

"In recent years, the number of consumers buying cars in stores has decreased significantly, and the turnover rate of colleagues who do sales in stores has also increased." A salesperson of a 4S store in Chaoyang District, Beijing, told reporters, "Now 4S stores generally operate under relatively high pressure, manufacturers set high sales targets, sales assessment pressure, and income is not ideal, so the loss of personnel is more serious." ”

According to data released by the China Automobile Dealers Association, in 2020, there were 4,2362 2021S stores that were withdrawn from the network, nearly 4,1400 2022S stores in 1757, and <>,<> in <>.

The cold of 4S stores is a manifestation of the tight operation of car dealers. At the China Automobile Dealers Industry Conference held a few days ago, Liu Yingzi, president of the Automobile Dealers Chamber of Commerce of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, said that at the end of last year, the Chamber of Commerce conducted an extensive investigation on the operation of dealers and found that more than half of the dealers had losses. In the first half of this year, the operating conditions of dealers have improved, but most dealers are still in a difficult state.

According to the latest "China Automobile Dealer Inventory Early Warning Index Survey" released by the China Automobile Dealers Association, the inventory early warning index of China's automobile dealers in June this year was 6%, up 54.4 percentage points year-on-year and down 5.1 percentage points month-on-month.

"As a category of bulk consumption, it will take some time for automobile consumption to recover. At present, the car market is generally in a state of oversupply. Although the sales terminal continues to increase the promotion of cars and adopt the model of price for volume to stimulate automobile consumption, in the first half of this year, most dealers still failed to complete the sales target as scheduled, and 4S stores were relatively deserted. Lang Xuehong, deputy secretary-general of the China Automobile Dealers Association, said in an interview with this reporter.

Car prices are down, sales models are outdated, and 4S stores are under pressure

The cold of traditional 4S stores has a certain relationship with its business model.

A 4S store sales director in Shanghai told reporters that the profit channel of 4S store mainly includes sales and after-sales two aspects, "The purchase price of the 4S shop car is not equal to the cost price, the real cost price generally includes the manufacturer's subsidies, rebates and other subsidies, want to get these subsidies, you have to complete the manufacturer's corresponding indicators, mainly purchase indicators, sales indicators, some manufacturers also have to assess customer satisfaction." For 4S stores with better sales, the subsidies given by manufacturers are usually higher. It can be said that the manufacturer's index requirements have a great impact on the operation of 4S stores. He said.

In recent years, with the rapid development of the domestic automotive industry, the competition in the industry has become increasingly fierce. "In order to make up for the deficit and reverse the decline in performance, manufacturers have set sales targets for dealers that are generally high. In order to complete the sales target, many 4S shops have lowered the price of cars for sales, but the market demand is limited, and the overall sales situation is still not ideal. The price of cars has fallen seriously, dealer revenue and profits have both declined, and some 4S stores are not operating well and can only withdraw from the network. Lang Xuehong said. According to a survey by the China Automobile Dealers Association, 21.3% of dealers said that they could complete the sales task as planned, 31.7% of dealers had a completion rate of more than 80%, and 11.7% of dealers said that the completion rate was less than 50%.

From the perspective of consumers, automobile sales channels are becoming more and more diversified and affect their consumption patterns.

On the one hand, car prices, product information, etc. are becoming more transparent. "In the past, parents mainly went to 4S stores to see when buying cars, and the store held the initiative in negotiation. In the era of mobile Internet, a large number of various automotive bloggers have emerged, and consumers have 'approximate numbers' for the product situation before buying a car. After the rise of new energy vehicle brands such as Tesla, through online channels such as mini programs and APP, you can also directly understand product information, not only the price is more transparent, the consumer experience is also more targeted, and 4S stores are no longer the only choice for the younger generation of consumers to buy cars. New energy vehicle owner Wenli said.

On the other hand, the rise of new consumption scenarios has attracted more consumers, which correspondingly challenges traditional 4S stores. On July 7, in the Wangfujing business district of Chaoyang District, Beijing, reporters walked into several car experience stores, and from time to time encountered consumers who came to test drive and consult. "Compared with the traditional 15S store, it is more convenient to test the car in the supermarket. The car experience shops in the supermarket are densely distributed, and you can try the latest models of your favorite brand by the shopping mall. Consumer Xiao Chen said.

"Now many automobile brands, especially new energy vehicle brands, have begun to open experience stores in supermarkets, which is becoming a new format and form of automobile sales, and supermarkets have become an important scene for car companies to popularize new models." Lang Xuehong said. To a certain extent, supermarkets with a denser flow of people and higher customer acquisition efficiency divide the customer flow of traditional 4S stores, which is also one of the reasons why 4S stores are cold.

New energy vehicles are accelerating substitution, and 4S stores are still mainly engaged in fuel vehicles

According to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in June, the national automobile production and sales reached 6.256 million units and 1.262 million units, respectively, an increase of 2.9% and 8.10% month-on-month, and a year-on-year increase of 1.2% and 5.4%, respectively. Among them, the production and sales of new energy vehicles reached 8,78 units, up 4.80% y/y, and 6.32% y/y, respectively, with a market share of 8.35%.

"At present, new energy vehicles are accelerating the replacement of traditional fuel vehicles, and their market penetration rate in the first half of the year has exceeded 2023%. However, on the dealer side, the penetration rate of new energy vehicles is still much lower than the market penetration rate. Lang Xuehong told reporters that in the "4 China Automobile Dealer Group Top <> Ranking" previously announced by the China Automobile Dealers Association, most dealers are mainly engaged in traditional fuel vehicles. From the perspective of market demand, the demand for fuel vehicles is declining, and the number of consumers who go to <>S stores to buy cars has decreased, and the market size of dealers mainly selling fuel vehicles has declined. "Many dealers are carrying out brand optimization and adjustment, removing some loss-making brands and adding new energy-based brands. However, this also takes some time, and the operating pressure of dealers is still relatively large. Lang Xuehong said.

It is worth noting that although the inventory warning index of China's auto dealers is still above the boom and bust line, the number of domestic auto dealers has maintained an upward trend. According to industry insiders, most of the new entrants are new energy vehicle companies. Many car companies have new energy vehicle layouts at the high, medium and low end, which extends more and more detailed sales channels and networks, which correspondingly attracts dealers to enter the market.

Incentive policies for new energy vehicles are also boosting the development of the industry. The relevant person in charge of the Ministry of Finance recently said that the new energy vehicle purchase tax reduction policy will be extended from December 2023, 12 to December 31, 2027, extending for 12 years. Among them, vehicle purchase tax exemption from January 31, 4 to December 2024, 1, that is, the previous two years continue to be exempted; From January 1, 2025 to December 12, 31, the vehicle purchase tax will be halved, i.e. halved for the next two years. At the same time, a reduction limit will be set for the reduction and exemption of vehicle purchase tax for new energy passenger vehicles. Set a tax reduction limit of RMB 2026,1 for new energy passenger vehicles with a purchase date from January 1, 2027 to December 12, 31 that enjoy vehicle purchase tax exemption; A tax reduction limit of CNY 2024,1 will be set for new energy passenger vehicles with a purchase date from January 1, 2025 to December 12, 31, which enjoy the halving levy.

Experts believe that the introduction of this policy is a major benefit to automobile manufacturers. The extension of the tax reduction policy means that manufacturers have enough time to produce products according to their design rhythm, and can also reduce their production and operating costs. "However, for dealers, it remains to be seen whether the reduction policy can play a role in easing operating pressure." Most dealers are laying out new energy vehicle tracks in response to market demand. However, the return on investment itself has a certain cyclicality, coupled with the current overall oversupply of the market, the potential of automobile consumption needs to be further released. In the future, it is also necessary to do a good job in supporting automobile consumer policies to promote the balance of market supply and demand, so as to effectively alleviate the operating pressure of dealers. Lang Xuehong said. Reporter Liao Ruiling (Source: People's Daily Overseas Edition)