A study, published in Nature says "Dismissive and deceptive car dealerships create barriers to electric vehicle adoption at the point of sale."
A group of researchers in the Northern Europe visited 126 car dealerships in Finlanc, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and posted as car buyers. Of the 126 dealerships vised, only 8.8 percent of the dealers positively talked about the electric cars preferring an electric car option over a gas or diesel option. Some car buyers in this study were gently steered away from choosing an electric car, in few cases they were told not to buy an electric car because "it will ruin you."
Here are the 4 most common ways dealerships steered customers away from buying an electric car.
- Dismissive of EVs - "the economics of fuel efficiency doesn't make sense..."
- Misinforming the customer - "it only goes 80km.." (50 miles)
- Neglecting to mention EVs - "you can only get this in diesel or petrol.."
- Depicting EVs as inferior - "it will ruin you financially..."
My Bolt Experience with a Salesman at a Local Chevy Dealership
Last year I went to my local Chevy dealership in Hickory, NC and asked to test-drive the Bolt. It was a great experience. The salesman was really nice and positive about EVs. They only had two Bolts on the parking lot and one was already sold. As we were driving we engaged in a friendly conversation. I ask him, why are don't you keep more Bolts and why isn't the Bolt prominently displayed (it was parked not in the front of the dealership but on the side). He said he would prefer selling one Corvette than two Bolts because he simply makes more money off of selling Corvettets than selling Bolts
I understand some dealers are not even signed up to sell Volts. Few will admit to it, I suppose.
Also, dealerships make lots of money in the service department. Other than tires and windshield wipers, there usually is very little maintenance needed on electric cars, especially on new Volts, Nissan Leafs and Teslas.
Selling an EV a Waste of Time?
"The cost of a car has nothing to do with the profit in a car. Most of the money profit comes from the car companies paying the dealership to move units. On top of that there is a good amount of education you need to give to first time EV owners before they sell them the car. It would be a huge waste of time for a dealership to go through that process just to have them buy another EV. On top of that there is the potential of a customer causing big problems for a dealership if they went in with different thoughts of EV ownership than what it actually is. It also comes to the brand and dealership networks some brands embrace the shady old school turn and burn mentally and others like BMW are all about getting the customer a car they love. I, for one, won’t be getting another Chevy including their trucks unless they do something crazy to keep my business. BMW on the other hand would have to mess up huge at this point to lose my future business," comments Kevin Emmons in the GM Electric Car Owners group on Facebook.
Thus, are the old-school dealership salesmen an impediment to electric car sales? Apparently yes! If the traditional car makers (other than Tesla) are serious about electric car sales, they should hire a specially trained an EV enthusiast to move EV sales forward.
Tell us please in the comments section about your EV buying experience. What is similar or contrary to this study? Yet, it's good to see that EV sales have been growing year by year.