Sure, get owners involved, but dealers hold the key

While many supporters of the electric-vehicle industry think that the nearly 250,000 owners, most who just love their cars, can make a big difference in sales, a new study says that getting car dealers on board is absolutely essential.

ITS-UCD logo“The policy focus on manufacturers and consumers is only half the battle,” according to a report from the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis. “Still missing are policies directed at fully independent car dealers, who may hold the key to increased electric vehicle sales.”

The study found that many dealers are less than enthusiastic about plug-in vehicles, despite evidence that plug-ins can be just as profitable for them as conventional cars. The study also reported that that buyers of plug-in electric vehicles were far less satisfied with the dealers where they bought or leased than were buyers of conventional gasoline and gasoline-hybrid vehicles.

“These findings are troubling,” the report said. “Innovative new products, especially those in which customers interact with a product in a different way, or that involve new or very different supporting infrastructure, often call for novel approaches to market and sell them.”

They suggest a couple of remedies, including involving government in streamlining processes in states that offer tax rebates for EVs.

The bottom line?

“New, bold and effective steps by dealers, automakers, and policymakers are needed to reach a wider market,” according to the report. “Automakers and government should work together now to tackle the challenges of marketing and selling these advanced vehicles—to reduce oil use, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.”