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Dealerships Would Rather Not Sell Electric Vehicles – Consumer Reports

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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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3 COMMENTS

  1. LoneWolffe beepee  Salesmen look for the easy way out, and a quick sale,  There’s so much profit in car sales, that they can make money without having any expertise.  The turnover is so great that dealers are literally hiring guy off-the-street,

    Training is wasted on these guys, because if they had other skills, they probably wouldn’t be salesmen,

  2. beepee  as with all cars, the salesman should be the one that knows everything about every system so they can explain and teach it to the new owner. still, when i was working as a master tech, for both lexus and toyota, i lost track of how many times i had to waste time (because techs don’t get paid for that sort of thing) to walk a customer through how to use a certain system.
    cars are becoming more complicated than ever, not as user-friendly and intuitive as they should be, which puts salespeople in a difficult situation. adding EV technology just puts them over the top! training and education is needed. like i said, it seems that people who read this blog are probably more qualified!

  3. You are 100% correct.  Partly because the Car Salesman scenario all but demands that the salesman know more about the product than the consumer.  Consumers don’t usually buy products from people that don’t know as much about a product as the consumer does.  Knowing that, the salesman, once in a “comfort zone of knowledge”, and is selling and making money, the salesman is not interested in disturbing or upsetting that routine.

    I always say, If a man makes a million dollars a minute  – you can’t get him to change unless you can guarantee him two million dollars a minute (particularly if he’s not sure how he’s making that much money, to begin with).

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