Are dealerships ready for EVs?
I was recently chatting with one of my General Manager friends from an Audi store in Ontario. Let’s call him Bob. Audi just sent all the GMs to Spain to test drive the new 2019 e-tron, and Bob was on that trip. I’ve often wondered about these expensive trips and what they accomplish. Not only do the automakers spend a lot of money to organize these events, but the dealers also have to pay to participate.
Bob is a good guy, and I know him enough to say that he’s a dedicated GM and very serious about his job. But, regardless of how good he is at what he does, how is he going to translate his experience in Spain with the e-tron to his sales team?
Isn’t that the purpose of the trip? …. to introduce the e-tron to the dealers?
The most that will probably come out of this trip is a meeting. Bob might be excited about the car during his trip, and when he gets back, he’ll request a meeting with his sales team. He’ll talk about the trip and the car for a maximum of an hour, and then the sales people are off to the sales floor talking to customers. How is that one-hour meeting going to translate to orders and sales when a customer comes into the dealership asking questions about the new electric model?
Audi is actively marketing the vehicle, and people are curious about electric cars right now. A potential buyer may ask his/her sales rep about the new e-tron next time they are at the dealership. Best case scenario, the sales rep has taken some time on her/his own to read up on the car. That’s not enough though. These cars need more education. It’s not just a new model. An electric car is a new way of driving. The general public needs to be educated on these new cars if the goal is to sell them.
When a new vehicle is launched, and when it’s finally ready to be sold in dealers, the sales reps are typically invited to a track for the day to learn about the car and test it out. Taking an electric vehicle to the track would not help answer the types of questions that most people have regarding these cars. Potential buyers will have questions about things that aren’t necessarily related to the car but rather on the ownership experience of the car. I recently helped out Plug’n Drive at the Toronto Auto Show with some test drives on a fleet of EVs they provided. I sat in with all sorts of people who were interested in trying out an electric vehicle, and for the most part, it was their first time driving an EV. 90% of the questions people asked during the drive were related to charging the car. People want to know what charging your car really means, what it involves, how long it takes, how much it costs, where to charge and what happens when the car runs out of charge?
Dealerships are not prepared to answer these questions yet.
So my question is to the Automakers;
How will you educate your dealers on EVs so that they can speak to their customers about a new driving lifestyle?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Also, I have a plan that will address all these concerns.