“Consumers demand dealers in an EV world,” Mike Alford, 2022 NADA chairman, told the crowd at the New York Auto Forum. “Sounds crazy, right? But it’s not. It’s not crazy, but that’s not the popular narrative.”
The forum, hosted by J.D. Power, NADA and the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. Alford is dealer principal at Marine Chevrolet in Jacksonville, NC, and Trent Buick-GMC-Cadillac in New Bern, NC.
However, Mike Dovorany, vice president-Automotive & Mobility for Escalent, a research and data analysis firm based in suburban Detroit, dispels this sentiment as an urban myth from the days when few EVs were on the market and EV adopters had a different mindset than today.
He reports Escalent consumer research highlights EVs are more numerous and purchase consideration has become mainstream. Today’s EV shoppers desire dealerships with EV expertise that can answer all their EV-related questions.
Early EV adopters, in contrast, typically tutored themselves in every aspect of EV ownership before making these purchases.
“They were very self-motivated. In many ways, they would come into a dealership and sort of test the salesman, and they may have known more than the salesman, who didn’t have many of these things to sell,” Dovorany said. “That’s not necessarily the most conducive way to approach a dealership.”
EV-only automakers are lobbying state legislatures for permission to sell vehicles directly to the public. Those newcomers support the notion that dealers haven’t bought in to EV sales, said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.
But franchised dealer groups are not against EVs, they are against direct selling, he said.
Another hurdle is the belief that EVs require less maintenance, and therefore dealers don’t want to sell them because it may hurt their service business.
Research and consulting firm, We Predict, said combined repair and maintenance costs for EVs on average are higher than vehicles with internal-combustion engines at three months and at 12 months of service, but are roughly equal to ICE models at three years of service.
Renee Stephens, vice president-automotive at Ann Arbor, Michigan-based We Predict, adds that in general, maintenance costs for EVs are lower. But repair costs and costs for service campaigns were higher.
Stephens said, “Parts and labor are higher on EVs than on gas models.”