Why dealers stink at selling EVs

The Sierra Club did a “secret shopper” survey to gauge the EV scene at dealerships and, of course, found that car dealers make lousy EV evangelists. They don’t have any EVs, or can’t find the keys, or have their sole EV stashed somewhere behind the dumpster, or they’ve forgotten to charge it. Consumer Reports has done similar studies and reached similar conclusions. EVs get lousy retail support — excepting Tesla, of course.

But so far, no study has discovered one of the primary sources of the malaise. Dealer insiders will understand this post better than the average reader, but here goes anyway. Ready?

Every manufacturer surveys its customers and compiles a customer satisfaction index (CSI) for each dealership and each salesperson. Underperforming dealers face fines. They often pass those fines onto the underperforming salespeople. Sometimes CSI is the sole topic of morning meetings. It’s a big issue. Many dollars are at stake. Jobs are at stake.

So far, this sounds like a reason for dealerships to stay on the ball, right? Yes, but it also becomes imperative to dodge hot potato situations that could result in bad surveys. EVs are hot potatoes. Despite their alleged simplicity, they’re complicated. They raise questions that salespeople might not be able to answer because they’ve forgotten the stuff they learned in that training course six months ago. EVs even draw sticky tax questions. Yeek! All of this spells CSI disaster.

Also, EV customers might have a bit of a ‘tude, or may come across that way because they feel like they’re imposing on the staff by even breaching the subject. They can read body language.

The bottom line: If an EV customer leaves the dealership without buying anything, it’s a bullet dodged, plain and simple. Let someone else take the CSI hit and face the fines. And so, folks, many dealers will continue to boot EVs behind the dumpster because they represent big risk with little reward.

Sales manager: “Are you still with that cruncher?”
Salesperson: “No, she finally left.”
Sales manager: “Good. Stay alert and get another up.”

You think this kind of dialogue would freak out the dealer principal if he/she were to hear it? Absolutely not. A job well done. This isn’t the week to be dabbling with dorks. The dealer is a half-point below the regional CSI average and can’t afford a bad survey right now.

So what would it take to get this situation turned around? TeslaMondo sees three possible paths to better EV retailing:

  1. Wait it out. Eventually, the technology will become commonplace, so dialogue between salesperson and customer will rise to the current ICE level. In other words, it will go from exasperating to merely annoying.
  2. Automakers must take control of the retail experience. This means inciting war by trampling dealer franchise agreements, but the outcome might justify the brutal bloodshed. Think Normandy.
  3. Build better EVs. The sales staff would love talking about truly exciting products. But who wants to talk about a friggin’ i-MiEV? Compliance cars get short shrift at dealerships because they deserve no better, period.
Tagged

6 thoughts on “Why dealers stink at selling EVs

  1. vfxx says:

    Become the expert. There are top dealership salesmen in WA and CA who are the goto for EV info. They do quite well.

    Like

  2. Nøderak says:

    Dealers suck and they know it. the More bloodshed the Merrier!

    Like

  3. Anon says:

    I agree, there are far too few exceptional EV offerings out there on the market, thats were more than Compliance Appliances, when they were first designed. Tesla seems to be the only one meant to be a real car. The rest of the EV market needs to mature, and fast.

    Like

  4. […] that auto dealers aren’t too swell at selling electric cars. But the article below from TeslaMondo, who reportedly comes from the auto dealer world, gives perhaps the deepest view I’ve […]

    Like

  5. […] report showing that auto dealers aren’t too swell at selling electric cars. But the article below from TeslaMondo, who reportedly comes from the auto dealer world, gives perhaps the deepest view I’ve seen yet […]

    Like

  6. […] WHY DEALERS STINK AT SELLING EVS […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s