At the beginning of May AutoRetailNet surveyed EV and Hybrid EV dealers to find out what the practical challenges of launching EVs are. Ten dealers responded.
All of the respondents to an AutoRetailNet survey of EV dealers said that cash incentives are “much more important” or “more important” to EV buyers than non cash incentives like car pool lanes – and over 60% said that incentives are “essential” to selling EVs at all.
While some dealers said that the environmental friendliness of Electric Vehicles and Hybrid EVs helped to pull people into the showroom, for most dealers it came down to price for “99.9% of the buyers” as one Michigan-based dealer commented. One North Carolina dealer who said environmental concerns “are a leading attraction” also nevertheless agreed that “the sales come down to price”
Price, infrastructure and the absence of instant incentives were the three biggest challenges for EV dealer, in that order, according to those out trying to sell the vehicles. Costs are “priced out of most people’s budget” said one dealer. Costs of charging stations and the absence of a state-wide infrastructure were the second most cited factor. Comfort and performance were also mentioned as drawbacks.
Higher and more direct incentives were the answer, dealers said. Most dealers were dissatisfied with the incentives offered in their states and the way the $7500 tax rebate incentive operated at a national level: “if they want the vehicles to start to move, the government needs to make that an instant incentive like the Cash for Clunkers rebates.”
Meanwhile, Ford has announced the roll-out for its 2012 Focus Electric. Initial openings are in California, New York and New Jersey, with the full national roll-out by the end of the year. 67 dealers have been officially certified to sell the vehicle. As part of the certification Ford has required that 80% of sales and service staff interfacing with customers are knowledgeable about the EVs. The sales start of the vehicle, which has been in production since December 2011, is reported to be slow.