Published on June 20th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

Video: This Is Why Elon Musk Hates Car Dealers

June 20th, 2014 by  

Elon Musk has launched an all-out campaign to change the way we buy new cars, and he’s done so because he says traditional car dealers have no incentive to sell electric vehicles. The man certainly has a point, and after watching this video, we’re convinced that most car dealers just don’t take electric vehicles seriously.

Bruce Chevrolet, like many car dealers, puts ads for its cars on YouTube, and the car in the video above is a Chevy Spark EV. It’s an electric car, 100%, and it has a single-speed transmission. In other words, it never, ever shifts. So why does the ad talk about a smooth-shifting automatic transmission? Why is there absolutely no mention that this is an electric car, with no engine, but rather a motor?

Why isn’t the Spark EV’s driving range mentioned, or its charging time, or the thousands of dollars in Federal and State tax incentives that it qualifies for? How about the fact that respected outlets like Consumer Reports actually prefer the EV version to the conventional, gas-powered Spark?

Because Bruce Chevrolet, like many traditional car dealers, probably doesn’t take EVs as seriously as they should. Instead of taking 5 minutes to put together a decent sales ad for this car, they just played canned audio that could fit literally any car on their lot over the ad. It’s lazy, it’s silly, and it certainly highlights what Elon Musk has been talking about; traditional car dealers aren’t putting in the effort necessary to sell EVs en masse.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • J_JamesM

    Oh my god, I’m glad someone else noticed this. It was annoying as all get-out.

  • Pat Campbell

    The dealership’s body repair shop has done quite well with my Leaf. Between a tow truck driver’s hook up insistence and a pick up mis-back up Allen Webb has done quite well in fact!

  • New technologies will displace ecnomies. That means jobs to the common man.
    That is why there is so much back lash. These videos are produced automaticaly.
    There have not been enough of these vehicles produced for this independant service provider to keep up with the changes. Your statements are assumptive. Elon Musk is not the Mesiah.

  • officerbill

    The Spark isn’t touted because this is just a canned voice-over used for all of their vehicles, the only things that change between cars are the pictures.

  • Bill Gradwohl

    All cars should be available from the factory direct to purchasers. Screw the dealer network. They’ve been profiting from a monopoly practice for decades.

    For service, we need trained mechanics, and if the dealers want to service vehicles, then that might be their niche. Why should we pay for their markup?

    Electric vehicles require almost no maintenance ever. The mechanic working on gasoline and diesel engines will not get much business from EV owners. The world is changing, and dealers will have to change with it or die out.

    • Which might explain why they (manufacturers [parts] and dealerships) don’t want to sell these! 🙂 But, we all know that!

  • Offgridman

    Had to pause it to read the features that flipped by so fast but the first one was “lithium ion battery motor”. Of course right after that was “remote engine start”. Anyone that owns the Spark EV able to comment on this ‘feature’ and it’s applicability? Thanks.

    • A Default

      Remote engine start allows you to cool off or warm up your vehicle while it is still connected to a power source thereby preserving range once you get in and go.

      • Offgridmanpolktn

        Thank you, have heard about that capability in the rremote apps for EV’s. However in your owners manual or instruction guide is it actually listed as the remote engine start? Or is the dealer just using a list of accessories from an ICE vehicle?

        • A Default

          You can remote start your Spark EV from a smart phone app, capability is built into the car.

        • A Default

          From the manual:

          “Use remote start to heat or cool the

          interior when the vehicle is plugged

          in to maximize the electric range by

          utilizing electricity from the electrical


          • Offgridmanpolktn

            Thanks agai, that got to the specifics, the rremote engine start as shown in the video must come from a list of ICE features

          • Thanks. Just to clarify Offgridmanpolktn’s point: the video uses “engine” in between “remote” and “start” … but the Spark EV doesn’t have an engine…

  • Tom G.

    Why no discussion about being an EV? Most likely because outside of this website and a few others dealing with motor vehicles, no very many salespersons really understands electric vehicles. They can’t talk batteries, transmissions or lack thereof, LOL, or even cost per mile to operate, charging times or even reliability.

    In other words – the knowledged to sell these types of vehicles is limited to maybe a few hundred people across the country. For the other 50,000 or so car salespersons across the good old US of A they are still living in the fossil fuel age.

    What do you think?

    • Ross

      The smart ones will find out about EVs. The majority will take longer and drift into other careers.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think the old dealership model will fade away. A limited number of showrooms where people can take a look at a sample and take a test drive will replace the large dealerships.

      People will move to online purchasing. It’s just too convenient to be able to add and subtract features and see how they change the price. It’s much more convenient to look on line at options rather than have some salesperson being the keeper of knowledge.

      Getting the dealer out of the system will cut prices and reduce waste (cars sitting unsold on dealer’s lots for months or years).

      • jeffhre

        Yes, a perfect summary…of why NADA exists. LOL. Long term though, I don’t think NADA is a very good trade name, entienda?

    • A Default

      I think you are correct. While I was showing a Spark EV to my daughter in the showroom I told her that it had regenerative braking. A salesman sitting nearby overheard and said I was wrong, that only the Volt had regenerative braking.

      Clearly he was confused by the Volt’s engine that could recharge the battery while driving and didn’t actually know anything at all about regenerative braking.

      But that’s OK with me, the result of little sales effort is lower sales which leads to bigger manufacturer incentives to sell the vehicles so they can meet California CARB mandates. So keep on twiddling your thumbs at the dealership so I can buy my next EV at an equally great price.

    • Tom, do you drive an E.V?
      I am a car
      salesman and I understand Electric Vehicles probably more than most car salesmen. I want to sell E V’s but the demand is nearly zero where I work.
      Most people don’t trust the technology,or have range anxiety. Furthermore the economy of the vehicle has not been satisfactorily demonstrated..
      Electrification of the fleet will happen. The destrution of an automobile distribution/ sales/ service center is for now a pipe dream, The companies with the manufacturing capacity will be the transportation winners. And they will do it at profit without carbon tax credits to artificially bolster the bottom line. Energy density. Anode expansion which causes the seperation of electrolite, Watts per kg.How much tech does a customer want to hear?
      Salesmen will be needed and ready when the time comes.

      • Vic

        “I want to sell E V’s but the demand is nearly zero where I work.”

        Well I’m not surprised, if your EV sales pitch is along the lines of what you’ve just posted here. You’ve perfectly illustrated the gist of the article. Well done Kyle!

        • It would be neccesary to have E.V ‘s in order to sell them where I am employed. You can bet that I would sell them enthusiasticaly if I had them. My desire to sell E V’s is no less than any other type.
          I am not an electric car evangelist. There are certain truths which are inevitable. By the way, The nature of the hybrid reminds me of some kind of Rube Goldberg contraption. I do happily sell them.

      • Jim Seko

        I’m not a car salesman but I’ve convinced several people to purchase EVs and PHEVs. Edmunds dot com has something called, “true cost to own” calculator. You enter make model and year and the TCO calculator gives five year total cost of ownership. The Chevy Volt TCO is less than the Chevy Cruze (Volt and Cruze are built on the same platform) and several other compact cars. The Nissan Leaf TCO is less than the Nissan Versa (Leaf and Versa share a platform) and EVERY other car including used cars!

    • Yep… we really can’t overestimate human interest in learning.

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