Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Scandinavian Car Dealers Don’t Want People To Buy Electric Cars

A new study finds the majority of car dealers in Scandinavia do a poor job of selling electric cars, even discouraging people from buying them. Are dealer incentives needed?

We thought it was just a US phenomenon — clueless car dealers who don’t want to sell electric cars. Oh, they have a few out on the back lot parked near the trade-ins that are going to auction, but they would rather not show them to anyone. Often, their batteries aren’t charged and the sales staff knows nothing about them or what makes an electric car desirable. They would rather slam the customer into a good old gasmobile — “What color do you want? What monthly payment can you afford? Would you like to drive it home today?” — than spend time talking about the benefits of driving electric.

electric car

EVs charging in Norway

It turns out this isn’t an issue that only affects dealers in North America. A group of researchers from the University of Sussex visited 83 dealers in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland pretending to be in the market for a new car. What they found was pretty much the same as what shoppers in North America discover when they go to buy an electric car.

Benjamin Sovacool, a professor of energy policy and one of the researchers, tells Digital Trends, “We essentially found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most car dealerships do not want to sell electric vehicles, even though they cost more than ordinary vehicles. This creates a key barrier to adoption that has not yet been addressed by policy, let alone explored systematically in research.”

67% of the time, the salespeople tried to steer the researchers toward gas-powered cars, while dismissing electric vehicles outright. In more than 75% of the visits, dealers did not even inform the researchers that they had EVs for sale. At one dealer, the researcher was told, “Do not buy this electric car. It will ruin you financially.” That’s enticing.

“Dealers act as a key type of agent known as an intermediary — someone between a product and service on the one hand, and the user, customer, or owner on the other hand,” Sovacool says. “They can thus exert very strong influence over what consumers think and do. We hypothesized that dealers would actually be more supportive or EVs, especially in the Nordic region, and were somewhat shocked by our findings.”

One of Sovacool’s colleagues in the survey, Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens of Aarhus University, believes governments and policymakers need to be aware of the problem and do more to encourage dealers to fairly represent electric cars to customers. “If these countries are real about using EVs as a tool for decarbonizing transportation, there needs to be a systematic revision of their policies and strategies to harmonize them and create a level playing field where the EV is a fair option in comparison to a petrol or diesel car,” De Rubens, he says. “We cannot keep favoring petrol and diesel vehicles and expect that decarbonization …  targets will be achieved.”

It’s all about the cash, of course. Sales representatives are paid more to sell more cars. They have little interest in educating people about the advantages of driving electric cars because that takes time. They prefer the “Wham! Bam! Thank you, ma’am!” process that reduces the sales process to the shortest time possible so them can move on to the next customer. Dealers have little incentive to sell EVs because the profit margins are low. Then there is the problem that EVs require little routine maintenance compared to conventional cars. In many dealerships, the service department is the primary profit center.

Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens is correct — incentive programs and expanded charging networks aren’t going to have maximum effect if customers are being discouraged from buying an electric car when they go car shopping. Perhaps some incentives should be created that reward dealers for promoting EVs effectively. If nothing else, this new research should alert policymakers that there is another component to the effort to get people into electric cars that needs to be addressed.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, or ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: How NVIDIA Is Bringing Autonomy To Automakers

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.


Support our work today!


Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports


EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

EV Press Releases


Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like


Pity the poor, unloved auto dealerships. If they disappeared, who would mourn their passing? Car buyers certainly wouldn’t miss the pushy salespeople, byzantine pricing,...


Tesla has filed with the State of Texas for a $2.5 million project that will transform 500 E. St. Elmo Road into an almost...


The EV Club of CT is behind a new bill to make it legal for a company (like Tesla) to sell electric cars directly...


In New York, traditional auto dealers have been fighting against both Tesla and other automakers from allowing their customers to buy directly from them....

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.