Published on October 17th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley0
Chevy’s Daring New Electric Car Sales Strategy — Educate Dealers & Consumers
October 17th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
Tesla delivered 79,600 Model 3 electric sedans in the 3rd quarter of this year. Chevrolet delivered 13,111 of its Bolt electric sedans in the first 9 months of 2019. Granted, many of those Model 3 sales were in foreign countries, but the disparity between the two numbers is stark. One company is an upstart with little experience selling electric cars, the other has been selling automobiles for over a century.
Chevrolet says it has a two-pronged plan to sell more Bolts, and it goes like this. First, the company, working with its battery supplier LG Chem, has tweaked the chemistry of the battery cells for the 2020 Bolt, resulting in a 10% increase in capacity to 66 kWh. That means the car now has 10% more range — up to 259 miles. And that, Bolt marketing manager Mike Hayes tells Automotive News, means Chevrolet has “cracked the EV code.”
Hayes says that back in 2016 when the Bolt was first introduced, “You basically had two ends of the spectrum. You were either long range and expensive or you were low range and affordable. It was kind of this bimodal scenario where you had this big ocean out there of long range and affordable. Nobody had been able to touch that space.” Sounds like Hayes could use a little tutoring in how to communicate in the English language but you get the point. The bowtie brand now feels it has bridged the gap between long range and low price, even though the new model starts at $1,000 more than the old model. Hmmmm…
General Motors has said it will launch 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles globally by 2023. If so, it better hurry up and do so. The clock is ticking. CEO Mary Barra said in March the company will invest $300 million to build a new Chevrolet branded electric vehicle at the same factory where the Bolt is manufactured in Orion Township, Michigan. That investment will be spread over 2 to 3 years. Be still my beating heart! GM spends more than that to redesign the tailgate of its full size pickup trucks. Are we supposed to be impressed by this news? Oh, please…
An Educated Consumer Is The Best Customer
But wait, there’s another part to GM’s EV master plan — educating dealers about electric cars. Say what? Chevrolet first introduced the plug-in hybrid Volt in 2011 and it is only now realizing it must train its dealers about electric cars? The company says about 40% of its dealers are Bolt certified, meaning the dealer and the sales team have completed training for selling EVs and installed a 240-volt charger and a fast charger on site.
Which means 60% of dealers are not Bolt certified, have no idea what an electric car is, and do not know the first thing about selling EVs. That is a dismal record and an indictment of the entire GM management team from Mary Barra on down. Chevy says it sends product specialists to dealerships to teach the sales staff about the Bolt. “That’s critical for us because that means the dealer is invested and dedicated to this product,” Hayes says. “Everything we do is to make sure that this is a consistent experience.” Uh-huh.
Automotive News cites a study by Cox Automotive which found more than half of EV shoppers expect dealers to provide a gasoline vs. EV cost comparison, a tutorial on operating an EV, and tips for taking care of an EV. Fewer than half of dealerships offer those services. Nearly half of respondents said they expected a map of charging stations and information on installing a home charging station. Few dealerships provide either.
Chevy created a Facebook group for the Bolt about two months ago. Really? The Bolt has been on sale for three years and you are just getting around to starting a Facebook group now? So far, the group has about 1,900 members. Chevy hasn’t posted much content yet, but within about a month, it plans to introduce new features and bring its engineers into the conversation.
“We always try to integrate as much of the expert knowledge that we can,” Hayes says. “As a marketer, I can tell you everything about the vehicle, but I didn’t design it. I didn’t build it. I can help translate that message, but it’s always better to hear it from the source.”
Fire Their Asses!
GM should fire all of its senior managers on the grounds of gross incompetence and unabashed stupidity. Throw in a charge of mopery on the high seas if you like. Hell, I could do the job all those stuffed shirts and empty suits are supposed to be doing and do it ten times better for one tenth of whatever The General is paying that bunch of smug, self satisfied clowns. A Facebook page with 1,900 subscribers and no content? It is to laugh.
And a pox on dealers. These creeps spend millions to keep Tesla from opening stores in their states. They should be calling GM headquarters every day demanding training for their sales staff and service technicians so they can sell the cars of the future. Instead they keep doing the same old thing and assuming their business will never change. Have you heard about the word “assume,” people?
Elon Musk is right. Traditional dealers are simply incapable of understanding electric cars and helping to drive the EV revolution forward. The message is clear. If you want an electric car, buy a Tesla. If you want a truckload of uninformed bullshit, see your local Chevy dealer. You know those scenes in Roadrunner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote looks up to see a large rock hurtling down on him? That sort of moment is coming for most Chevy dealers sooner than they can possibly imagine, and they richly deserve their fate.
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