2015 Nissan Leaf in front of Longfellow Bridge, Boston [photo: John Briggs]
Yet another study has revealed that many dealerships across the United States still don’t prioritize electric cars and haven’t prepared for their growth.
The latest report showed dealerships still practice the same unhealthy habits uncovered in earlier studies, including a lack of electric-car inventory, little to no marketing, and an apparent lack of education on local and national incentives.
The goal was to assess how dealers will handle a buyer base that will only grow in the future as electric cars become a more feasible, more popular mode of personal transportation.
The firm deployed mystery shoppers to the highest-selling electric vehicle markets in the U.S. Tesla aside, the outlets for every brand on the market did not perform particularly well.
Above all, the study found major inconsistencies across dealerships.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier and 2017 BMW i3 electric car, Aug 2017 [photo: Tom Moloughney] Enlarge Photo
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier and 2017 BMW i3 electric car, Aug 2017 [photo: Tom Moloughney]
One dealer might provide excellent information and have the knowledge to help a buyer choose an electric car.
But another dealership might utterly dismiss electric cars and default to pushing a vehicle that was easier to sell, such as a hybrid or a gasoline-only car.
The study found many dealers held the unspoken belief that shoppers must be prepared for a less-than-stellar shopping experience if they insisted on an electric car.
One example was the lack of physical inventory at the dealership itself. Many salespeople urged mystery shoppers to accept the electric car that was presently available, instead of making the effort to search for the car requested.
In some cases, the salesperson didn’t offer test drives, questions on the cars went unanswered, and—more often than not—electric cars were not on display in the dealer’s showroom.
The study echoes advice from the Sierra Club aimed at helping automakers make the sale of electric cars more seamless, and it starts with training.
Without a knowledgeable sales force, many dealers will default to what they know best: a traditional car powered by an internal-combustion engine.
The entity also said allocating more inventory outside of popular electric-car states like California is essential.
Potentially the biggest draw for electric cars—federal and other tax credits or incentives—should be explained in full, too.
It’s not just one brand either; the study looked at 11 separate brands and found inconsistencies in every experience.