Typically, any car price or quote given by a manufacturer should be seen as a starting point that you can haggle on, to secure a lower price or better deal.

This is harder for electric cars, as the supply is limited, and their surging popularity means that many buyers are on waiting lists, so demand is generally higher than supply.

Also, some brands have set prices and won’t haggle, with Tesla being the key example of this.

However, even with Tesla they have quarterly targets and can offer discounts on leftover inventory, or demonstrator vehicles, so you can ask them what they can do, or if they have any cheaper options for you.

And for all other manufacturers, they still want to secure your business, and should be able to offer you a discount or deal or cheaper alternative, in order to do so. As such, try to negotiate to get a better price, package, or model.

If you don’t ask you don’t get!

Do your homework

Do your homework and decide what model, spec, and details you want, and know the corresponding list price. Then get the latest quotes and offers from a local dealer (see if they have any deals available through finance etc.). Then enquire with other dealerships to see if they can offer a better price.

Look for better quotes elsewhere

The easiest way to get a discount is to ask your local dealer to match or beat a deal you’ve been offered elsewhere.

It may take some time, but you can search car broker websites and call different dealerships that stock the electric car or hybrid car that you want, and ask them if they can beat the quote you’ve received from your local dealer. And when you find one that does, then go back to your local dealer and ask them to match or beat it.

The more you hunt for a better price, the more likely you are to find a dealership that will offer one. For popular makes and models that are in short supply, you might struggle, but for others that aren’t selling as fast, dealers might be much more flexible.

Be flexible

If you’re willing to consider a slightly different spec, or slightly older model, the dealer may be able to give you a significant discount to clear that stock. So, if haggling is proving difficult on the exact model you want, then see if there are any other very similar choices that could come with a discount or incentive, including demonstrator vehicles.

Be friendly

Be amicable and calm and simply work on getting the lowest price possible on a model, and/or seeing what other offers or suggestions they can make. Don’t let them know how much you are willing to pay upfront or monthly, as they will work to that. Instead ask them if they can do better than what they’re offering, and suggest the price or package you have in mind. And suggest something is reasonable enough for them to entertain, but to then make a counteroffer with, somewhere in the middle.

Be precise

The Maximum Retail Price (MRP) or Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), (sometimes referred to as the “sticker price”) generally comes in at an odd number e.g. £36,725. A good approach is to then negotiate and suggest lower prices in the same format, as an odd and precise number, rather than rounding up or down.

It might not sound intuitive, but a study done by Harvard showed that when investors use precise figures (e.g. £21,330) rather than numbers rounded down for simplicity (e.g. £21,000) that they end up with far better outcomes.

Also, the salesperson won’t be expecting it, and it will make them have to think more, which will put you just slightly on the front foot.

Talk trade-in after price

In a similar way, if you’re thinking about trading in your car, don’t mention that at the start. Focus on the price for the new car you want, and getting as close as you can to the price you want, agree on a price that might work, and then talk about trade-in after.

If you want to explore trade-in as an option then do your homework on how much your current car is worth (look online for quotes and how much the model is selling for second hand) and share that with the salesperson. If it’s a popular model and in good condition, and if it’s the same brand, then you might get the price you want for it, or even slightly better to close the deal.

Talk finance

You may manage to get yourself a nice discount on the model you want, especially if it’s a hybrid car (which are in greater supply, with more model options available) or you may struggle to get much off, if it’s a new and popular electric car. Either way, try to get the price as low as possible first, and then see if they can give you a reduced rate on a finance deal, in lieu of a big discount on the price, or to close the deal if you secure a discount.

Ask for extras

Again, try to get the lowest price possible for the car you want first, and then try to get any extras you can. From the best finance package or deal possible (for example, if they have deals on other types of cars, then ask for them to apply the same to your electric car or hybrid car) and if they aren’t as forthcoming as you would like, then ask them to throw in extras such as accessories or breakdown cover in instead.

Keep trying to secure any discount or extra that you can. While dealerships are a lot tighter on electric and hybrid cars, the investment you will be making, even if on lease, will be very significant, so you should stress this, and say that if you’re offered a good enough deal that you will take it, or otherwise you will look elsewhere.

Enjoy the silence

Another smart tip for you as a customer, is to use silence as one of your best negotiating tools. If you negotiate a price, and a salesperson then pitches an offer, let the price hang in the air for a few seconds. Dead airtime may indicate to the salesperson it wasn’t a good enough offer, and the slightly uncomfortable air may make them make a lower follow-up offer.

Academic researchers refer to this as the “concession timing effect”, where the salesperson will start to negotiate to what they think you’re thinking, and as such effectively negotiate with themselves, and possibly offer better terms if it feels like there’s doubt in the air.

If you need to walk away

You simply might not get the deal you want, and in that case, you can just walk away. Or if any negotiation comes to a standstill you can simply say that you can’t accept the terms and leave.

There’s a good chance the salesperson will go back and figure out a lower price or deal and be back in touch with you, as from them a low (or very low) commission, will be better than no commission at all.

Buy local but look elsewhere

It’s much better to buy from a local dealer. It’s easier to deal with any issues with the new car, and servicing etc. However, once you have a quote from your local dealer you can also get in contact with other dealerships and see if you can get a better price elsewhere. If you can, the chances are your local dealer will match it. Or at the least it gives you leverage in your negotiation from that point on.

Negotiate from home

Equally, if it’s practical to, you can negotiate from home. You can get initial quotes, and/or negotiate a price in a dealership, but then say you need time to think about it, and then do your follow-up negotiation via email. This will give you time to check anything they are offering, to compare prices elsewhere, and decide if you want what they are offering (if it is a different model spec, or a demonstrator vehicle etc) without them there to encourage you towards it.

This means the ball is in your court, as you work on your terms, and avoid chumminess or quick-sell pressure, and reduce the chance of agreeing to terms that might not work for you, or that you can do better on.

The best advice is to look for a better deal elsewhere, and then ask your local dealer to match or beat it. Whether it’s a new electric car, or any type of hybrid car, you should be able to negotiate a better deal or package with a dealership in your area.

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