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U.S. Dealership Still Aren’t Ready for Electric Vehicles

The United States has the technology, but still lacks the understanding and infrastructure for an efficient EV network, study finds.

Electric cars are taking the world by storm, and that’s a good thing for all of us––except for American car dealerships. A recent Ipsos RDA study found that, while most Americans are ready for the EV takeover, dealers are not.

Ipsos sent a group of potential buyers to 14 dealerships with great EV sales over the course of two months to find out how easy it is to buy an electric car, and found three major issues with the sales process.  Despite its current problems with the Model 3’s production, Ipsos says Tesla dealerships are well-informed and don’t suffer from these issues. Only regular brands with a few electrified models in their lineups do. 

The first issue shoppers will run into is ill-informed sales staff. Ipsos found that many staffers knew little about the electric cars they had available or gave false information. This also meant that most salespeople pushed the shoppers towards other vehicles they knew more about––mostly hybrids and gas-powered cars. 

The study also found a huge disparity between dealership quality even within the same brand, although that’s a problem with dealerships in general.  Ipsos says some dealers were quite helpful when picking out an electric car, while others were unaccommodating and tried to sell the undercover shoppers non-EVs instead.

Lack of inventory was a major problem as well, with the few EVs available stored in the back of the dealership lot rather than in the showroom. Customers also requested or scheduled a test drive, but salespeople were reluctant to offer them.

The American dealership experience is already an arduous one, but this study shows that salesmen are willing to employ as many tactics as they can to pressure consumers out of electric cars. Independent EV companies, motorsports, and buyers are ready to move forward, but brands seem to be pulling out all the stops to remain stuck in the past.