Dealerships Would Rather Not Sell Electric Vehicles – Consumer Reports

Yes, I know all about electric vehicles, how about this full-size SUV, instead?
Yes, I know all about electric vehicles, how about this full-size SUV, instead?

As it turns out, just reading The Green Optimistic makes you better qualified to sell electric vehicle than the average new car dealership sales associate.

According to some research done by Consumer Reports, involving some secret shoppers visiting 85 automobile dealers in four states. As we know, mass-market electric vehicles are a relatively new concept, both to the automobile market and to those who market them. That being said, if you walk into, say, a Fiat dealership, expect to see the sporty Fiat 500 Abarth alongside the Fiat 500e. Similarly, you could walk into a Nissan dealership and expect to see the Nissan Leaf being shown quite close to the Nissan Xterra SUV.

What you might not expect, if you happen to be shopping for an electric vehicle, would be how little sales associates know about the electric vehicles they’re selling, and how little they are actually interested in selling them! Nineteen secret shoppers were given a specific set of questions to determine how much dealership associates knew about their electric vehicles, available incentives, electric vehicle ownership costs, and perhaps how many electric vehicles the dealership happened to have on the lot. The answers they got were pretty disturbing.

Interestingly, Chevy, Nissan, and Ford dealerships, selling the Volt, Leaf, and Focus EV, respectively, seemed to have the most training. On the other hand, Toyota and Honda, selling the Prius Plug-in and Fit EV, respectively, seemed like they had some catching up to do. As to who was more apt to suggest a plug-in, it seems that their training had a lot to do with it. Toyota and Honda dealership sales associates, for example, more likely to steer prospective customers away from plug-ins.

Of the 85 dealerships in the report, 35 of them actively steered their prospective customers away from plug-ins, including plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. One particular case, Culver City Toyota, in California, went so far as to mention that the Prius Plug-in would require “battery replacement every couple of years,” an obvious scare tactic. Was Elon Musk right?

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