Op-Ed: Is the US Dealership Sales Force Prepared To Sell EVs?
Well that is the question that Elon Musk is wagering. Almost everyone in the EV community would argue that Musk is right. Auto dealers will argue that the customer needs protection. The premise of this article is to ask if there are equal possibilities for that protection on both sides, in other words is Elon Musk correct? There are many tales of not what can go wrong but what did go wrong in the sales process.
Truth sometimes stranger than fiction
I will kick this off with my personal experience of why Mr. Musk and Tesla Motors might be correct in their assessment of selling EVs direct in NC. I reside in NC and could not wait to join the EV revolution.
I decided to purchase a Chevy Volt as soon as it was available and followed the delivery schedules closely. I kept in regular contact with my local dealership on their delivery. Upon receiving their first Volt allocation I called to place my order at MSRP. The salesman said that he could not sale the car to me. I insisted on speaking to the manager and was given the same story.
When I asked how much over MSRP it was going to cost me he told me that he could not say. To that I replied “Let me get this straight, not only will you not sell me a Volt at MSRP, you actually refuse to sell me the car at all?” The manager replied that since they had only received one Volt he just wanted to hold on awhile to find out what the market would bear. Wow!
Not all dealerships are dirty
I immediately called one of the larger GM dealers in the state and asked if they would sell me a Volt at MSRP to which they replied “of course,” and I made my purchase. I would like to add that in my 18 months of ownership of my Volt my service experience on a scale of 1 to 10 has been a perfect 10. I personally feel that Tesla will have a difficult time matching the quality of service available today through dealerships, but as a North Carolinian I feel Tesla has the American right to prove it! I must add that I knew more about the Volt than the salesman which puts the EV at an unfair advantage as Tesla suggests. This is my own personal experience with purchasing my first EV.
So are there tales to be told of both good and bad EV sales experiences? How many salespersons were up to speed on EVs? Did you know more than the salesperson? Did they show you things you were not aware of? Could they explain true cost of ownership? Did they try and talk you into an ICE? Was their EV prominently displayed? Is Tesla Motors warranted in their argument? No name calling please and just the facts.