If you’ve ever been to a car dealership, you know it can be a frustrating and/or infuriating experience. There’s often the game-playing of the reps keeping you waiting while they “check in with the manager” as well as shenanigans surrounding financing. And then there the unexpected fees that seem to inevitably appear as you get close to signing on the dotted line.
It’s been going on pretty much unchanged almost since Henry Ford’s fossil-fueled autos (and those of other manufacturers) first rolled off the assembly line and car dealerships started to sprout up in U.S. towns and cities.
But now there’s an added ingredient: electric vehicles. And, it appears, many dealerships are not embracing the biggest gamechanger in almost a century.
For instance, in a survey, the Sierra Club found 66% of dealerships did not have an EV or plug-in hybrid available for sale, while 45% of those dealers said they wouldn’t offer an EV even if they could.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports on the experiences of several would-be EV buyers, one of whom said the process was “cringeworthy,” with the dealers seeming to know little about the EVs they were selling. “I felt like I knew more than they did,” said James Richards, the CEO of a water heating company in Davis, Calif., who spent days test-driving EVs at Volkswagen (VWAGY), Tesla TSLA 0.00%↑, General Motors GM 0.00%↑ and Ford F 0.00%↑. He ended up buying a Tesla Model Y. Tesla salespeople “strike you as EV geeks,” Richards told the paper. “All the other dealerships: Ford, VW, the GM people — they didn’t seem like specialists.”
At another dealer, a customer, Maya Batres, bought an EV only to be offered a plan for oil changes. “I knew we didn’t need that,” Batres said, laughing.
The cluelessness is adding to a burgeoning problem: slowing EV sales, with electric cars sitting double the time on dealerships’ lots than gas-powered cars, a situation that has led Ford and GM to slow plans for electric vehicle expansion.
It’s all enough to make you want to kick a few tires. In frustration.