Dealers Discourage Consumers from Buying Electric Cars, Study Finds

Salespeople may play a part in the slowing of electric car adoption.

Electric cars are far from being a new concept, but the adoption of electrification into a market dominated by fossil fuels has been a struggle. A new study by Nature Energy has found that even car dealers are playing a part in stymying the adoption of electric cars.

Many consumers are already scared of changes, and going from filling up at the pump to having range anxiety over long charge times can certainly sway one's decision on buying into the next generation of automobiles, or sticking with the tried and true. 

In the study, Nature Energy sent out some secret shoppers to 82 different car dealerships across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Despite the countries being ranked amongst the highest 15 in the world for EV adoption, the researchers experienced 126 separate visits where salespeople turned the consumers away from electric and towards gasoline or diesel alternatives. 

While this may seem to be something that the average consumer should be researching on their own prior to making a purchasing decision on a vehicle, the study concluded that the dealer's overall display of knowledge and push for sale was the main reason why a consumer would purchase one particular vehicle over another.

The study goes on to report that dealers appeared to ultimately be dismissive of electric cars or even completely avoided talking about them entirely. When the dealer did talk about EVs to the customer, the information given regarding vehicle specifications was often wrong or geared toward swaying the consumer into purchasing a fossil fuel powered vehicles.

One customer in particular, according to the report, was "gently steered away from an electric model because the salesperson wrongly insisted it would take two days to drive 350 kilometres—roughly the distance between New York City and Washington D.C." 

Most industry-leading vehicles like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 can make that trip in a single charge. However, those intended for urban or short distance commuting, such as the BMW i3, may need to stop and charge once along the way. Even with the added length of charging, it certainly won't take any vehicle two days to make the commute.

Unfortunately, the popularization of electric cars has brought forward a love-hate relationship with many consumers and automobile aficionados. 

Some consumers are excited to find themselves in the driver's seat of a new EV, while others have sworn them off in the name of car culture. In actuality, manufacturers are pushing for electric cars to be the new norm by investing large sums of money into the electrification of their fleets. They're also working to bring auto enthusiasts with them for the ride to keep driving exciting.