Report: Car Dealers Holding Back EV Sales In America

2 years ago by Jay Cole 85

Ok, Maybe Not ALL Dealers Aren't Keen To Sell EVs (photo via Scott F)

Ok, Maybe Not ALL Dealers Aren’t Keen To Sell EVs (photo via Scott F)

In 2008, current US Presidential Barack Obama set a very ambitious goal of selling 1 million plug-in vehicles in America by the end of this year (2015).

A quick check on our historical record of EV sales – the “Monthly Plug-In Scorecard” (which records every sale, of every plug-in vehicle in America), shows that almost 388,000 have been sold through this October; meaning that by year’s end, we could assign a best-case result of some 420,000 plug-ins sold in the US.

Using our super human deductive skills, we calculate this as only 42% of the original goal.  Not so close.

Ford Came Up Just A Touch Shy Of The 70,000 Estimated By The DoE in 2011

By Selling 5,775 Copies Of The Focus Electric Through October of 2015, Ford Came Up Just A Touch Shy Of The 70,000 Estimated By The DoE in 2011

For the most part, there are three obvious (and specific)  reasons why the government’s goal fell so far short:

*- the DoE predicted 36,000 Fisker sales, which fell  about 34,100 shy of hitting the mark

*- based on a price-point of “comfortably under $30,000” and some wild Bob Lutz projections, the DoE pegged 505,000 Chevrolet Volt sales – in reality a MSRP starting comfortably north of $40,000, followed by slow yearly MSRP reductions limited the Volt to just 84,666 through October 2015

*- a bad Japan/USD currency swap caused a 2nd year price hike in the then Japanese-built Nissan LEAF (instead of a planned reduction), which was followed by some shaky battery capacity/degradation issues in the summer of 2012, and a failure to deliver the “100 miles of range” initially expected by the public, which meant just 87,190 LEAFs have sold through October, the DoE projected 300,000

…now, the NY Times has suggested another reason why EV sales have disappointed some since the Obama proclamation.  Car Dealers.

In a piece entitled “A Car Dealers Won’t Sell: It’s Electric“, maps out all the reservations held by traditional car dealers and their parent OEMs in selling plug-ins to the US consumer.

Chevrolet announces Tuesday, July 27, 2010 the 2011 Chevy Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability will go on sale with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price starting at $41,000. Volt owners can qualify for up to $7,500 in U.S. Federal income tax credit. The Volt will be initially available in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area. Customers wanting to be among the first to purchase a Volt can visit a participating Chevrolet Volt dealer. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) at Courtesy Chevrolet in San Jose, California on Sunday, July 25, 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet) (07/27/2010)

Chevrolet announces Tuesday, July 27, 2010 the 2011 Chevy Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability will go on sale with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price starting at $41,000.(Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)

And it all starts from the top. Former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Forrest McConnell, famously made a speech stating that tougher fuel-economy regulations pushing plug-ins were making consumers eat broccoli when in reality they wanted “low-calories doughnuts”, by which he meant more fuel-efficient gas cars – kind of like what they (the dealers of America) were already selling.

Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, issued a rebuttal – “That would be interesting if it was true,”  and Ms. Nichols went on to say that would-be customers have been dissuaded in part by uninterested dealers and “horror story” sales experiences.

The NY Times, sums up the problem as follows:

“Industry insiders and those who follow the business closely say that dealers may also be worrying about their bottom lines. They assert that electric vehicles do not offer dealers the same profits as gas-powered cars. They take more time to sell because of the explaining required, which hurts overall sales and commissions. Electric vehicles also may require less maintenance, undermining the biggest source of dealer profits — their service departments.”

From there, many current EV owners felt they were the ones doing the convincing of the dealers to sell them the product, as dealers tried to push them into conventional gas vehicles.  The Times article points out many specific car buyer stories and survey results to support the theory that traditional car dealers are a big reason why plug-in vehicles aren’t more successful today.

Look At Us, We Are Selling EVs Dammnit(Image: Josh B/InsideEVs)

Look At Us, We Are Selling EVs Dammnit (Image: Josh B/InsideEVs)

For us, we have another data point to add to the NY Times story, that we feel better leads to the same conclusion that OEMs, dealers and their salespeople have played a big role in the acceptance of plug-in vehicles.

Tesla.

Despite a difficult launch of the Tesla Model S in the summer of 2012, a rising base MSRP (the short-lived, 40 kWh car started from $49,900 after incentives), and an all-electric Model X SUV that is ~2 years late in arriving,  the company held to a belief that it should sell its own cars, and sell them with an unashamed passion for the technology.

For all the sales predictions made by the DoE back in 2008, only one will be met.  Through October, Tesla has sold some ~56,500 Model S sedans in North America, on their way to selling more than 60,000 by the end of the year.  As for the DoE?  They predicted just 55,000 Tesla sedans would be sold.

Check out the full NY Times article, Hat tip to Lloyd!

 

Tags: , , ,

85 responses to "Report: Car Dealers Holding Back EV Sales In America"

  1. RexxSee says:

    GO TESLA !

    1. Tom says:

      Plus one

      1. Three Electrics says:

        Sadly, dealers know what sells. If they’re not interested, it’s because the public isn’t interested. Tesla has the advantage of being able to sell to a niche that finds them on the Internet, but lack of interested dealers is a foreshadowing of weak consumer demand–at least for current models. The Bolt may change everything, at least for consumers which have garages to charge in.

        1. Alain says:

          I am in sales,you don’t sell à car to make little profit ,you sale for thé big commission! And when thé boss says try not sale thé ev,cause your pay chèque will sufher.

        2. RexxSee says:

          Sadly, three electrics is a well known EV hater, and will invent anything agaisnt EVs, as haters do.

          1. RexxSee says:

            BEVs do not sell as they should because they are often too small and/or a little weird looking, they are too expensives, they are too short ranged on purpose, the dealers hide them, the companies do not push them to the dealers, the publicity sucks and they are rare to find also because companies don’t build enough. They are also expensive because companies don’t build enough, on purpose. The price of the batteries is greatly exaggerated, because the batteries is the only pretext on a so simple car to keep prices high.

          2. ThombdBhomb says:

            It appears that RexxSee is exhibiting a little hate for Three Electrics. I don’t know their history, but I don’t care about it either. Three Electrics didn’t make an outrageous point, but RexxSee did with “will invent anything against EVs, as haters do.” That gets a yellow card.

            1. RexxSee says:

              I simply hate EV haters, as they show it by always having something negative to say about EVs. I often wonder what else motivation can those people have else than being stuck on the extreme right or being paid to spread false informations. The firsts are a little dumb the second have no morality. We are fighting for the life on this planet. Big Oil shills contribute to it’s destruction for a little money. I prefer life.

              1. Three Electrics says:

                Actually, I love my electric cars. However, I try to be a realist–I’m not the average consumer, and I recognize that. Trying to persuade my friends to buy electric cars has shown me what people care about and what they do not. Acknowledging reality is step one on the long road to sustainable mobility.

        3. Just think how many people go into a dealership to buy an EV and walk out with something else SIMPLY because they were dissuaded? This isn’t simply about EV’s not selling; there IS a market for them. This is about dealers harming EV sales.

          There’s a stark difference between a dealer trying to promote an ICE vehicle, and a dealer actively slamming EVs to make them look bad.

          1. Michael Will says:

            For me it was the other way round – I was already open to the idea of electric cars because of the volt and tesla, but one sucked and the other was out of reach financially. When I brought my VW Jetta in for service to my dealer he talked me into looking at the e-golf in January and I bought it the same week. 12000 miles later I still don’t regret trading in my Jetta for an electric car. It is just so much more fun and convenience unless I drive it outside of its range. It’s the car we put most miles on, and the formerlly primary car Honda Odyssey is now only used as second choice where the e-golf is already busy or we go on vacation more far.

            1. kdawg says:

              You couldn’t afford a Volt?

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Michael Will said:

              “When I brought my VW Jetta in for service to my dealer he talked me into looking at the e-golf in January and I bought it the same week.”

              Thanks, Michael, for reminding us that not all car salesmen hate to sell EVs. Unfortunately, it appears that many of them do; perhaps most of them.

          2. jerryd says:

            EVs should be sold by separate dealers as regular dealers have shown they won’t
            sell them unless forced.
            Nor can people buy EV’s that are not built in any real numbers like the Spark, E500, etc.
            Think how many if they all would advertise, sell EV’s like they do pickups.
            And where are the EV pickups?
            A 120 EV mile old S-10m size pickup and van with a 15kw generator in the rear quarter panel for unlimited range would be killer apps for many especially commercial.
            But where are they?

  2. ecoLogics says:

    No surprise here. I went to all the dealers here in Lethbridge, Alberta shopping for EVs. They all (including Nissan) told me to go to Vancouver, British Columbia – 1,000 km away and not in the same province. Thankfully Tesla just opened a store in Calgary. It’s still 200 km away but that’s where I’m going.

    1. evcarnut says:

      Good Call!

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    This isn’t news to many of us here who endured dealer non-service when trying to buy an EV or PHEV.

    In my case, when I was shopping for a Leaf in Feb/March of 2013, I found only 1 local dealer (Rochester, NY) who had the slightest clue about the car. The other three dealers resulted in a shopping experience that felt like a bad parody of a “what not to do” training video. The remaining dealer didn’t do a great job, but they were tolerable, and the post-sale service, what little I’ve needed, has been good. (Although they did offer me a free oil change at my first visit.)

    But once again, I try to take the long view. Cars with plugs are the future, and dealers will adapt or go out of business; it just won’t happen as quickly as most of us here would prefer.

  4. SparkEV says:

    SparkEV, comfortably under $30K, comfortably under $20K post fed subsidy, slightly above $15K post CA subsidy, AND it’s quicker 0-60mph than any car under $20K. If SparkEV was widely available when DoE made the projection, it would’ve pegged it at hundreds of thousand of units.

    I think SparkEV would’ve done as well or even surpass projections if Chevy made it more available, at least in US where the fed subsidy would’ve made it well under $20K. Going by Apr. 2015 sales in two states with slight advertising of 920 cars (ie, sold out), nationwide roll out could (could!) result in 100K cars per year.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      I agree. The SparkEV looks like a great commuter. The CCS charging capabilities might have tilted me towards buy the SparkEV if it was available in Texas and if there were any CCS charging stations in Texas. The FFE has been available in Texas for a little less than two years. A bunch of 2016 FFEs just hit market in Texas and around the country. I’m expecting sales of the FFE to go up through the end of the year due to increased availability.

      1. ffbj says:

        Good to know.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      SparkEV is a nice little commuter car and a great learning experience for GM.

      But they need an EV that is more attractive and has more batteries. The Bolt should at least address the battery issue.

      1. SparkEV says:

        You know what they say; once you go EV, you never go back. Just have to let them taste SparkEV acceleration, and under $20K car buyers would be hooked.

        If I’m in charge of GM, I’d put CCS/Chademo in all dealers and charge $0.15/min, but without membership. That’ll cover electric cost, and bring in non-GM EV drivers to GM dealers to charge making the charger cost part of advertising. But GM is not a rational company…

        1. Oh brilliant. More of you advertising this Spark thing. I’m from England. I see perhaps one Chevrolet on the roads a year.

          1. Brian says:

            Most of us here advertise the cars that we drive. It’s partly because its the beast we know and partly because we did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that it was the best option for us. I’m certainly a little guilty of that myself.

            That said, SparkEV is so far into fanboyism that it is rather annoying at times. I’m sure he has made to add to the community than constant advertising of how wonderful his car is…

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Well, at least SparkEv is satisfied with his EV purchase, and hehe, I think its cool that he wants to advertise a GM product.

              The biggest problem with the Spark EV is that most of the country cannot buy it.

              Supposedly the BOLT will be in all 50 states with over a 200 mile range, hopefully with these 2 options:

              1). 6 – 7 kw charger for many, many who’ll want it over the base 3.0 – 3.6 kw offering.

              2). CCS optional functionality (which if the car will recharge 80% in 45 minutes rather means it will be able to be charged at well over 50 kw.

              Hopefully these options will be immediately available, and not years down the road.

              Granted, all of us really wonder why it is taking so long to put the VOLTEC drivetrain (either GEN1 or GEN2) into a small colorado/canyon sized pickup truck, or even an old excallade hybrid power train from a few years ago, along with a large battery, and a charger and a j1772 into van sized or Silverado sized vehicles. Or even a Denali.

              The basic problem here is, people always say Tesla is the trailblazer here, whereas I think there is the case to be made that GM is trailblazing on its own, which presents a big problem.

              Chrysler currently has nothing besides a limited release 500e, Ford just glues batteries to an existing car, -> the FOCUS electric would be fine, but in these parts, no one has one for sale, it must be pretty much special ordered, and the general public really can’t get interested in something they can’t see.

              Nissan with their Leaf obviously is doing something correctly, being the most popular EV ever. BUt earlier in the year, when I went to ask how was Enterprise’s experiences with the Leaf, since it was obvious they got rid of every one they had in the area, the manager told me horror stories of people stranded, running out of charge, not being able to charge, Cold weather operation severely cutting range, – such that the manager said he will NEVER get another EV until the situation drastically improves since their first attempt at BEV’s was such a colossol failure.

              That cannot be blaimed on the manager, or a dealer network. His only mistake was believing Nissan’s Hype.

              1. kdawg says:

                There are spy-shots of the Bolt showing the CCS charge port.

              2. SparkEV says:

                “he wants to advertise a GM product”

                I wrote many times in the past and also in my blog my distaste for GM for their fraudulent bailout (aka bankruptcy while getting piles of money). But when they come up with such superior product (cost, 0-60, dcfc, EV!), it’s hard not to give kudos to the product, especially when it’s like an abandoned puppy so eager to please the humans.

            2. SparkEV says:

              Fanboyism true to a point. I first got SparkEV because it’s cheap, and I had no idea how it stacked up. Then I find all kinds of things about it (eg. quickest DCFC to 90%). I was never a fanboy for Prius; nothing to write home about.

              I bring up cost here, because both Volt and Leaf mentioned pricing as factors in lower than expected sales. SparkEV was comfortably under $20K post subsidy.

              “*- based on a price-point of “comfortably under $30,000” … Chevrolet Volt … in reality a MSRP starting comfortably north of $40,000, …”

              and

              “*- a bad Japan/USD currency swap caused a 2nd year price hike in the then Japanese-built Nissan LEAF (instead of a planned reduction), …”

  5. John Hollenberg says:

    Yes, and many of us have experienced dealer non-service of our BEV–because it doesn’t need much service, thereby undermining their profits. In 4.5 years I have spent a total of about $300 on service at the dealer, $80 of which was for required battery checks to keep my Leaf battery warranty intact. The rest was for tire rotation, cabin microfilter replacement and flushing the brake fluid. There just isn’t much money to be made servicing an EV.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yup. On average, auto dealers actually make more money from servicing cars than from selling them, so it’s no wonder they’d much rather sell gasmobiles to their customers.

      1. Three Electrics says:

        Dealer profit margins are roughly two percent, and only fifteen percent of revenue comes from service. Manufacturers love dealerships because it lets them avoid the scrappy, low margin stuff–and if quality suffers, consumers blame the dealer, not the manufacturer. Manufacturers screw dealers on a regular basis by keeping all of the margin to themselves.

  6. M St.John says:

    When I leased my Leaf on Jan 2013, the sales person did not know how to start the car. Only one person at the dealership new anything about the Leaf.(a receptionist who had leased one)
    I am now waiting on a Tesla model lll because Nissan does not appear interested in keeping me as a customer.

    1. ggpa says:

      “because Nissan does not appear interested in keeping me as a customer”

      You sound overly dramatic and entitled …

      1. Stuart22 says:

        LOL!!! leave it to kdawg to deftly find us a picture that hits the bullseye better than a thousand words could have ever managed…

  7. Djoni says:

    Indeed, just a good argument for the business model that Tesla is promoting/executing.
    Direct sale and forget about all middle man pain, hassle and income.

    1. ffbj says:

      Well it certainly backs up Tesla points that dealers would have little incentive or ability to sell their vehicles.
      What they, Tesla, have been saying all along.

  8. Mister G says:

    No surprises here…current car dealers want to sell ICE only…ICE ICE BABY

  9. ffbj says:

    Dealers are have little incentive to sell their ev models. There is a conflict of interest to sell them since they require little maintenance, when the main money maker is the service department, and the ev requires little service and the service guys are not fully equipped to service them, they are not popular with the salesmen.

    We all know that car salesmen are the least trustworthy and are the most reviled occupation in America.
    They do not have your best interest at heart. Not surprising that they would steer people away from evs.

    My own experience mirrors the article’s inference. I was actually told by two separate Chevy salesmen at different locations, that I did not want a Volt.

    1. SparkEV says:

      There will be shakeouts. I firmly believe BEV has come of age, and those who do not embrace it will be out.

      But from dealer perspective, BEV that’ll need dealer service will be attractive. If it has radiator and pump, that will be better. Not sure if Leaf has them, but SparkEV is very good BEV in this regard with liquid cooled battery.

  10. kubel says:

    While I agree that high prices and dealerships have something to do with poor sales, I really don’t think it’s fair to put the blame entirely on them.

    This is like a repeat of the EV-1 days. The reality is that EVs aren’t for everyone. The vast majority of people I talk to about my car are interested in the technology and think it’s cool I’m able to make it work for me, but are turned off by the long recharge time and limited range. The way they see it, they are paying more for something that does less, and they are 100% correct.

    When I steer them in the direction of a Volt or a Ford Energi product as a compromise, they are turned off by the cramped seating or severely limited cargo capacity.

    If you really want these to sell in volume, you need to address these concerns:

    1) High price.
    2) Limited range.
    3) Slow recharge time.
    4) Form factors used by EVs aren’t even selling in ICE flavors. What are the biggest sellers now? Small SUVs. Pick up trucks.

    I also think it will be much easier to bury the cost of the electric drivetrain in SUVs and trucks since they already have such high profit margin. Ford is making about $13,000 on each F-150 they sell. They could slip a PHEV drivetrain with 50 mile range in an F-150 or Ranger, not increase the price, and still make a profit.

    Can you imagine the result of Ford electrifying their F-150. They would immediately win the fuel economy war and the torque war. Combined with their aluminum bodies, it makes a perfect fit. And don’t tell me people wouldn’t buy them. They would become the best selling plugin in the US.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      There are certainly issues with EVs. However, with most dealerships you’d think that EVs are for pretty much no one.

    2. SparkEV says:

      Let’s address the issues, shall we?

      1) High price.

      SparkEV is $16K post subsidy. Lease is (was?) cheaper than cell phone plans ($77/mo)

      2) Limited range.

      SparkEV is good for about 1 hour of driving at freeway speed, 4.5 hours of driving at 30 MPH (130 miles). Most driving is less than this.

      3) Slow recharge time.

      EV gets “3 gallons of gas” in the morning as if by magic. This is quicker than driving to gas station. For longer distance, SparkEV gets 65 to 70 miles in 20 minutes. Even at this “slow” speed, it can drive over 1000 miles in one day, though with lots of pain.

      http://sparkev.blogspot.com/2015/05/dcfc-quick-charge-and-driving-from-la.html

      4) Form factors used by EVs aren’t even selling in ICE flavors. What are the biggest sellers now? Small SUVs. Pick up trucks.

      Unfortunately, this is lagging. But 3 out of 4 issues are already addressed with SparkEV. However, SparkEV is quicker than most small SUV, pickups, and all cars under $20K in 0-60mph.

      1. Daniel White says:

        1). The Spark is too small of a form factor for wide acceptance
        2). The Spark is ugly
        3). The Spark is ugly
        4). The Spark is ugly

      2. Michael Will says:

        Great write up. The sad thing is that markets are made by plowing with advertisement. I think most people buying an suv or truck with 4×4 are not really needing one, but that’s what they know and see in advertisements all the time.

      3. Mark C says:

        SparkEV, love seeing the joy you have in the Spark EV. Perhaps if it were available in the non-compliance states, I could buy one. As for the pricing “post-subsidies” you keep mentioning, most folks who buy a $25k +/- car don’t have the income to claim the full $7500 fed tax credit, which can’t be carried forward. It’s use it or lose it. There’s still the matter of financing the additional $7500, at least until you can refinance it after you get your tax credit. Leasing should solve that problem, if they calculate the tax credit into the residual value.

        Beyond those two points, I pretty much agree with the car being a great choice, especially if leased.

    3. JimGord says:

      There is an American plug in pick up available in limited release (fleets). Hopefully it will be available to consumers soon.

      http://www.viamotors.com/news/press-releases/via-motors-plug-in-pickup-certified-by-carb-epa/

  11. Speculawyer says:

    Of course they are. They get smaller margins from EV plus there is little to no maintenance & repair work.

    This is why Tesla has such a great rationalization for avoiding the dealer model.

  12. Tapaskoch says:

    As an owner of a Renault Zoe for 2 Months now, I’d say over here in Germany, the issue is not the dealers, its the lack of awareness about BEVs existence.
    If consumers don’t know these car exist, how could they possibly ask a dealer?
    So im my view its a lack of advertising and the laziness of dealers to actively promote BEVs. (and yes this would require some kind of incentive for a dealer to do so..)

  13. Matthias Amrein says:

    We have to stop bashing car dealers. They would like to be liked and make a living at the same time, just like you and I! The current business model is to blame for the bad sales experience on both sides of the isle. Find a new way -Tesla shows one of many good solutions- and everybody will be happy 🙂

    1. Turbofroggy says:

      They have to earn our respect, and right now, 98% of dealers are idiots when it comes to plug-in
      Tesla has it right, eliminate the middleman, that is the only way to effectively sell Plug-ins.

    2. MikeG says:

      EVs are a disruptive technology and like any disruptive tech, there will be winners and losers.

      Auto dealers need to figure out how to survive without 95% of the service income that they are used to.

      However, independent auto repair shops will need to adapt to losing nearly all of their revenue or go out of business.

      It’s a similar situation that workers in the coal industry are dealing with now. At the same time, there are growth opportunities in clean energy that workers can be retrained to perform.

    3. Erwin says:

      Yes they would like to make a living- but when they do it by blatantly ripping off consumers it’s hard to find sympathy for them- charging 10,000.00 over msrp just because ‘it’s a hot car’, rampant bait & switch advertising, ruining a customers credit by running 25 credit checks so they can’t buy anywhere else- this is just a few of my experiences with car dealerships.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Matthias Amrein said:

      “We have to stop bashing car dealers. They would like to be liked and make a living at the same time…”

      The problem is that the “stealership” business model more or less forces auto dealers to cheat their customers wherever possible. Of course there are exceptions, but car salesmen didn’t get their sleazy reputation by accident.

      Auto dealers are an outmoded business model, and the sooner we can cut out the middleman, the better for everyone except those employed by the stealerships.

      1. Three Electrics says:

        Once Tesla stops losing $2000 per sale on their stores, scrapping dealerships may make sense. Right now manufacturers love dealers, as they serve to lower costs. I’d prefer that all manufacturers did company stores (like BMW tried, back in the day) but I suspect that in the long run manufacturers will stick to what they are good at–manufacturing–and leave selling to others. Most cars have thin margins, unlike Apple and Tesla, and can’t afford the same experience. Tesla will learn this with the Model 3.

  14. mustang_sallad says:

    I think it’s a question of critical mass and momentum. Dealers that are already selling a lot of EVs can keep doing it with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and, more importantly, inventory and knowledge of the product. A dealer who’s had a handful of EVs come through the lot doesn’t know how to sell them and won’t be able to sell to anyone but early adopters who already know what they want and don’t necessarily care about colour and trim options.

  15. goodbyegascar says:

    This only proves that EVs are feared as an invasive species, because that is what they are.

    They undermine the entire auto industry business model, especially the existing dealer network. We should expect them to fight before they go down. And they will fight dirty.

    I will be very pleased to witness the carnage…

  16. Vin says:

    Wow, I must live on a different planet. I have yet to run into a dealer that didn’t want to sell me an EV when I was looking for one. Once I made initial contact, they all kept checking back with me and never tried to steer me to an ICE. That’s three Ford dealers, two Toyota dealers, four Chevy dealers, and a half dozen Mercedes dealers in the So Cal area.

    Am I the only one that has yet to experience any anti-EV sentiment from a traditional car dealership?

    1. Brian says:

      I haven’t witnessed anything anti-EV either, just a whole lot of ignorance. “Sure, I COULD sell you a CMax Energi but I’d have to order it and it will take a few weeks. OR you can drive off today in this hybrid here…” I.e. Sell-Whats-Available-Today. And an EVis never available today.

    2. James says:

      Doesn’t So Cal mean southern California?

      That might have something to do with it…

      1. Vin says:

        Yeah, that’s what I suspected until I saw EV Driver’s comment below… his experience here in So Cal seems to be the polar opposite of mine.

    3. Djoni says:

      O.K. let me guess.
      You are 8 feet tall, weighs 280 pounds all muscle, dead lift 300 pounds and run 40 yards in 3.9 second got no belly and mean business?
      That of course is rather convincing not to steer you of anything you want.

      1. Vin says:

        I wish! Well, maybe I don’t want the 8-foot height…

  17. Wraithnot says:

    Almost none of the dealers in northern California we have visited when shopping for a plug/in car tried to get us to buy a conventional car. The BMW and Chevy dealers even had salesmen that specialized in the i3 and Volt. And the Nissan dealer, Ford dealer, Fiat dealer, and Mercedes dealer all seemed to have at least one salesman that understood the cars at least reasonably well. The only dealer that actively discouraged their plug in car and tried to get us to buy a conventional car was Toyota. Which is a shame because we really liked the RAV4 EV. But I figured if they didn’t even want us to get one then they probably wouldn’t be too anxious to fix the car or improve the software.

    1. Ziv says:

      I went to Criswell in Gaithersburg MD to get my Volt and there was no attempt to switch me to an ICE. They showed me 8 Volts and when I told them what I was willing to pay, they pushed back a bit on price. I said no. Then they said “you can take the Cyber base Volt with the white console or pay more”.
      I took the Cyber base Volt.

  18. Ted Wilson says:

    This is TRUE. Both GM & Toyota openly said that their dealers are not willing to sell Electric vehicles.

    That’s why Tesla started selling cars directly instead of going through dealers.

    This year, China has outsold USA in Electric/Plugin sales. Slowly USA will follow China in buying more EV/Plugins.

    Also with higher range and declining prices, American customers will demand more EVs and go to dealers who sell those cars.

    I really expected Ford & Mitsubishi to sell more of their Focus-EV and MIEV after $ 6,000 price cut, but both seemed to be a fad. Obviously its the dealers who have pushed these vehicles to sidelines.

    If only more Focus-EVs were sold, then the worldwide sale of Focus model would have overtaken Corolla.

    1. super390 says:

      The great entry barriers facing new car companies, especially from unfamiliar countries, are dealers, repairs, and government testing requirements. Direct sales of EVs could be the beachhead that companies from China and India will one day exploit. Modern gas engines are terribly complicated, must deal with tough mileage and clean air testing, and carry a large liability risk. Direct sales means not having to convince reactionary dealers to try your brand. But the articles on Chinese EVs on this website indicate that they’re still pretty mediocre cars. The first waves of Japanese and Korean imports fell apart because they weren’t excellent enough to offer an advantage.

  19. ggpa says:

    Greetings to everybody that recently spent $500 or more getting their ICE a dealer service. I am sure the dealer never told you that most families can easily get by with one ICE and one EV.

    I am sure they never said: “You can avoid paying for gas and scheduled maintenance,
    for a one time payment of $10000 or less, you can get a used Leaf (or iMiev) which is a recent model good quality car, which will handle your errands and commute for years and years with no maintenance”

  20. Roy LeMeur says:

    As others have always said… it’s all about the service revenue. IMHO, the dealers association folks are being stupid by complaining of lost service revenue on EVs. Being as the obvious conclusion is that EVs simply don’t need the endless supply of fluids, filters, belts, hoses, pumps, alternators, etc. that the average ICE requires during it’s service life.

    By actually admitting this, they are unintentionally telling people that EVs cost less to operate even if you take the savings from using a less expensive energy source out of the equation.

    IIRC, folks that had EV1s 15+ years ago said that when they took them to the dealer for service all that was occasionally required was to rotate the tires and fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir.

  21. EV Driver says:

    I test drove almost every EV/plug-in on the market when I was shopping for a car. I definitely experienced a lot of friction against EVs at every dealer I went to. And this was in Los Angeles, where there are so many EVs on the road already. Every sales person I talked to try to get me into a gas or hybrid vehicle despite the fact I made it clear I was only looking for an electric plug-in vehicle and would not even consider their other vehicles. I walked out of some of the dealers without even taking a test drive due to the fact the sales people were so stubborn.

  22. Martin T says:

    Yes this is why traditional car dealers and the whole support structure TOTALY SUCKS.

    Go Tesla! You get it.

  23. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “They assert that electric vehicles do not offer dealers the same profits as gas-powered cars. They take more time to sell because of the explaining required, which hurts overall sales and commissions.”

    So there’s additional reason why stealership salesmen don’t want to sell EVs, even beyond the reasons we already knew.

  24. Roger says:

    IMHO, Tesla sells the only EV that can truly be your one and only car. All the other offerings are half hearted attempts, or simply commuter vehicles that are intended to be just for daily commuting. Tesla is the only car manufacturer truly dedicated to changing the transportation industry.

    I think it is not entirely fair to blame the dealerships for the shortfall of EV sales expectations. It is more appropriate to blame the manufacturers (GM, Nissan, Ford) for their half hearted attempts.

    1. ^^ Roger, your opinion is pretty accurate.

      We the public are guilty of not holding the legacy manufactures feet to the fire. There are Zero reasons why they can not put a proper battery (150-200 miles real range minimum) and proper charging (DC charge capabilities) in Any of the models they offer. Not a plug-in hybrid but an EV.

      We turned our leased Volt recently and of course the question comes up “What are you replacing it with??”, “We have some great deals for you”. My response “Ok, what have you got without a tailpipe???” Of course GM’s got nothing. Here in WI you can’t even order a new Volt or a Hybrid Malibu for that matter. GM’s selling the Faux 2016 Malibu instead???? The Bolt….Yawn…. What are you thinking GM??????

      Kinda of sad but after 5 decades of driving and owning a slew of GM vehicles. The Volt was the Best and the very last GM will we buy or lease. After being prepared to wait however long it took for the Model 3 to arrive, we fell in love with and ordered a Model S.

      Now the Model Three will make us tailpipe Free.

      Thanks to Tesla actually not sad at all, not even a little bit 🙂 🙂

  25. Stuart22 says:

    The reason Tesla is successful at sales is because… the Model S shocked the car world with its unexpected superiority over the supposed best sedans in the world, not because of their sales model.

    The Model S would have sold as well if Tesla had gone the independent dealer route. Had they chosen a hybrid sales scheme, with both dealer and corporate outlets, they might have even done better up to now.

    1. Bonaire says:

      If Tesla stayed at RWD and 0-60 mph ties in the 5.x second range, I am sure sales would be tanking by now. They saved the company with the DWD solution and the faster acceleration.

  26. Terry says:

    It is true the dealer and auto manufacturers biggest profits are from parts. And gas cars with all the moving parts gives them more money. This is hard to explain to individuals who ask about my Volt. A more expensive EV may actually cost less than a cheaper gas car. This was definitely true when I bought the Volt in 2012. Gas prices were almost 4$ gallon. Big oil is also trying to stop EV sales by opening the floodgates on oil supply. These low gas prices were not caused by fracking. It is good that a lot of fracking has stopped. However OPEC has nothing if EVs become the major vehicle everywhere.

  27. Bonaire says:

    Don’t forget the numerous (hundreds) of Chevrolet dealers required by GM to buy battery tools at $10,000 at their expense. And if they did *not* buy the tools, they were expelled from the Volt program. Are these same smaller dealers going to come running and order up dozens of plug-ins when Bolts come out? And the new Volt? GM actually hurt their own dealership coverage of Volt deployment by doing this tools “shenanigans” back a couple years ago and I think dealers have long memories.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem….Most Caddy Dealers in my area sell NO ELRS.

      But then there are those that CHEAT a bit… My dealership (BASIL) doesn’t have a single EVSE in ANY of their dealerships, using the ‘convenience charger’ should they need to top up the battery after test drives.

      They are supposed to have a minimum of 2- 200 volt chargers, to which Basil says ‘ what the Hell do we need them for – we can test the car using a convenience charger, and otherwise, people can charge at home.’

  28. Nix says:

    When GM first started selling the Volt, they had a special salesperson who was trained on the Volt. The rest of the salespeople were supposed to send buyers to the Volt salesperson.

    This was good in that it meant they had somebody specifically trained on the Volt.

    But it was also bad, because all the other salespeople had to give up their customers (and sales commissions) to the Volt salesperson.

    That left some salespeople trying to steer Volt buyers into other gas cars.

  29. alex says:

    I am sure sales would have been much better had charging not being a problem, real or perceived.

    DOE should have done better job promoting charging infrastructure.

  30. John says:

    The service manager at my dealership has made more than once snarky comment about how my car (a Volt) is going to put him out of a job because “the only time we get Volts in is for recalls” The last time, I told him he better learn how to install solar panels.

    They also kept calling me telling me I was overdue for oil changes. Their entire staff really had no idea how a Volt worked.

    I switched dealerships.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      I think the comment that was made about only 1 VOLT EXPERT per dealership have caused all the other salesman to discourage volt sales. Too bad. How long does it take a sales person to get familiar with a car?

      As far as maintenance goes, I go in for a complementary oil change and filter every 5000 miles on the ELR, even though the engine has barely turned around a few times.

      My VOlt (out of warranty) only requires an oil change every 2 years or 24,000 miles, exactly the same as an Impala. The antifreeze is good for 5 years or 150,000 miles.

      So other than brake jobs, I don’t see where the dealer is hurting that badly. They always try to sell me a new set of tires everytime I go in .

      1. Nix says:

        brake fluid should be changed too….

        1. Aaron says:

          I just tried to schedule recall maintenance for my car online, and the website helpfully suggest over $250 of maintenance I need to do at 15,000 miles (I have just over 9000 miles on my car right now). $250? Including changing brake fluid? At 15K miles? That is just a money grab. I will watch this dealership closely.