With the introduction of the first commercially-successful electric vehicles, things have started to change in how vehicles are sold.
Of course, we’re not talking about the General Motors EV1, which was more of a research project than mass-production electric vehicle. We’re talking about Tesla Motors’ Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S, which started an electric vehicle revolution. True, other automakers have introduced their own electric vehicles, such as the very successful Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, but there’s a slight difference in how these electric vehicles are sold, which has caused quite the hubbub in automobile dealership associations (ADA).
Much to the ADAs’ chagrin, Tesla Motors does not sell via dealership network, instead selling direct to the customer. Skipping the middle man saves Tesla Motors a lot of hassle, but has also caused a lot of hassle, namely because the ADAs don’t like the direct-sales model. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk notes that conventional automobile dealers don’t really have much incentive to sell electric vehicles, and not just Tesla Motors’ electric vehicles, but any electric vehicle. The problem is that the ADAs don’t actually make much money off the sale of a vehicle, but on servicing those vehicles. Because electric vehicles require so little maintenance, what incentive do they have?
So, while Tesla Motors draws the ire of the ADAs, electric vehicles in general are practically ignored. Take, for example, a recent auto show, the 2015 HRADA (Hampton Roads Automobile Dealer Association) International Auto Show, which was sponsored by the Virginia Beach region ADA. The 2015 HRADA brochure is twenty pages of full-color automotive beauty and mind-boggling fossil-fuel bias, featuring exactly zero electric vehicle photos, in spite of the fact that they are the newest and most-advanced in the automotive industry.
The 2016 Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, upgraded and enhanced, gets no picture and a two-word update: “minor updates.” Similarly, there was no picture of the Cadillac ELR, and featured a few more words describing it. On the other hand, a number of new vehicles were simply ignored, such as the Chevy Bolt Electric Vehicle Concept, Toyota Prius hybrid electric vehicles, Volkswagen eGolf, the world’s most fuel efficiency electric vehicle, and the list goes on, or not, since not a single one of them gets even a mention in the 2015 HRADA brochure!