Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4


Chairman’s Message: Dealers Must Support Customers Throughout the EV Purchase Process


This story appears in the
New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Dealers Magazine
Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4

NADA President and CEO Mike Stanton recently authored an article detailing why it is so critical for any dealership that offers (or will soon offer) battery electric vehicles (EVs) to prove themselves an indispensable part of their customers’ EV experience. They need to assist their customer during the decision-making process, the purchase process and throughout the life of the vehicle.

Tesla has been saying, for years, that they chose the direct sales model because franchised dealerships were not interested or not able to sell EVs. We currently offer more than 40 models with a plug, and that number may grow to 140 in the next few years, with models being introduced in virtually every vehicle category and at every price point. Tesla’s soundbite no longer rings true. While EVs seem to make headlines almost every day, the fact is dealerships still offer more than 200 different makes and models of gas-powered cars and trucks, which represent the overwhelming majority of vehicles sold in New Jersey and across the U.S.

]EVs currently account for just three to four percent of all New Jersey EV sales, but that number will continue to grow as the state and the country moves toward a more electrified transportation future. EV sales are expected to jump as more EV models are introduced in the most popular vehicle categories, including compact and midsize SUVs, full-size pickups and more.

Once the influx of new EV models starts hitting dealership showrooms and lots, dealers will have a critical role to play in getting mass-market car buyers to feel comfortable and confident about buying their first EV.

Escalent, a human behavior and analytics advisory firm, recently completed a study that asked more than 20,000 EV shoppers and early adopters to provide detailed feedback on a variety of EV-related issues, including:

  1. How they wanted to learn about EVs
  2. How they wanted to experience EVs
  3. How they wanted to purchase an EV
  4. How they wanted to service their EVs
  5. What kind of vehicles and features they want before making the switch to an EV

When presented with a de-branded version of the direct sales model as an option, 20% of the respondents preferred the direct sales model, 23% were neutral, and 57% of respondents chose the current franchise dealership model.

Even Tesla owners who participated in the survey weren’t entirely on board, with barely half choosing the direct sales model as their preferred option for purchasing an EV.

While more of the vehicle research and purchase process has moved online for virtually ALL brands, the Escalent study also found a strong preference from EV buyers for an in-person experience, including vehicle education, test driving, charging options, completing the transaction, and getting the vehicle serviced.

When given a choice, consumers want competition for sales.

As many of us have been saying for several years, the direct sales model is not the right approach for consumers. When given a choice, consumers want competition for sales. They want ready access to warranty, recall and general maintenance service. And EV buyers want dealerships to be an integral part of their EV purchase experience.

Dealers are all-in on EVs and offer the best (and most proven) way to ensure widespread EV adoption in the years ahead.