We’ve occasionally gotten a bit of pushback here at CleanTechnica from some readers when we point out the fact that GM has not seemed all that keen to market or sell the Chevy Volt.
The plug-in hybrid model has still managed to sell pretty well, though, owing to the fact that it’s a great car. But that doesn’t mean that GM has made any strong efforts to sell it. If real efforts were made, then we would probably be seeing 2–3 times more Volt sales by my estimation.
To elaborate on these comments, I’ll now draw your attention to a recent story about buying a new Chevy Volt from a dealership in Texas (and shopping for a Nissan LEAF before that). It’s revealing.
The story comes to us via a Phil Ganz, as published on Green Car Reports. Here are some of the best excerpts:
My experience with a second Nissan dealer’s Internet Sales was quite the opposite. They were happy to work the deal over email. If I wanted to see the car, learn anything about it, or drive one, however, I’d need to deal with their Leaf ‘expert.’ Who was on vacation.
I visited the nearest Chevrolet dealership and was welcomed by another grandfatherly gentleman. They did, indeed, have one Volt in stock, he informed me — and he’d be right back after he went to grab the keys. One fully loaded Volt, he added, that the dealership would only sell at list price since “we don’t get many.” No Volt ‘expert’ at that dealer.
My final tactic was to communicate with the largest Chevrolet outlet in the area and, I am told, the largest in the country. Again, back to Internet Sales. This time, by luck of the draw, I got a response from a very helpful and fairly knowledgeable fellow. The deal came together quickly, with an “I don’t know how we did that” exclamation from my guy. I never met the Sales Manager, the boss, or anyone else in authority. No pressure.
My salesman had the basics down when I test drove the car, but then he quickly introduced me to another sales person. The new guy actually owned a Volt, and was an honest fan of the car. He answered virtually every question I had, and told me a few things I wouldn’t have thought to ask about. And that’s how, finally, I bought a Chevy Volt in Texas.
Going by what I’ve heard from many, many EV drivers, these sorts of experiences are the norm when purchasing an EV through a dealership. It’s no wonder that most EV sales haven’t been great over the past few years. Tesla, of course, doesn’t sell through dealerships because execs knew that the above-recounted experiences would be common.
It seems, though, that when the sales reps in question have actually owned an EV, things can go much more smoothly. I wonder that says about future trends?
However, aside from the dealership salespeople (or lack thereof), there’s still the limitations related to dealers getting a very limited number of electric cars for consumers to choose from, not having thorough training from the automaker, and automakers putting very little effort into advertising their EVs.
Image by Steve Hanley
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