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Published on November 25th, 2019 | by Cynthia Shahan

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The Sierra Club’s Nationwide Study On The EV Shopping Experience

November 25th, 2019 by  


Back in 2015, when we shopped EVs and then leased a Nissan Leaf, we were the primary EV educators up to the point of sale, not the salespeople. Even during the test drive, we had more knowledge. Our grasp on the function and reality of electric cars seemed to overwhelm the salesperson. We passionately emphasized why we wanted an electric car. Our sales person remained less than enthusiastic.

While mulling it over, I got several emails about deals on gas cars from Nissan. I had given my email only for information regarding the Nissan LEAF.

Now, here it is 2019 and the Sierra Club’s recent report, A Nationwide Study of the EV Shopping Experience, proves again that dealerships are still playing possum, or simply not up to their jobs. The Sierra Club study collected data on the ground from all 50 states.

Key findings from the expanded collection data and analysis of how EVs are being sold in the US are below. These are from the first-ever nationwide investigation of the EV shopping experience:

  • 74% of auto dealerships nationwide aren’t selling electric vehicles. 
  • Salespeople often failed to provide information on federal or state consumer incentives or were poorly informed or uninformative about EV technology.
  • 10% of the time when volunteers asked to test drive an EV, the vehicle was insufficiently charged and unable to be driven.
  • 44% of the dealerships that did sell electric vehicles had no more than two EVs available on the lot. Of the dealerships that sold EVs, more than 66% did not display EVs prominently, with vehicles sometimes buried far in the back.
  • Non-ZEV states had much more limited EV inventory compared with ZEV states, which had more EVs offered.
  • The Western region of the US had more inventory, greater EV availability, and the highest consumer satisfaction.
  • Respondents reported that 25% of dealerships contacted that had at least one EV on their lots offered both new and used EVs — a sign of the growing market for used EVs.
  • Among automakers, Tesla was reported as providing the best consumer shopping experience, with an average satisfaction score of 4.5 out of 5
  • Chrysler was reported as providing the worst consumer shopping experience, with an average satisfaction score of 2.9 out of 5.

Reading through the report, the Sierra Club points out that automakers and dealers are talking a good game, but it is only lip service talk. Although dealers claim it is supply and demand, they are directly oppressing demand.

4 years after my shopping experiences, and 3 years after the first Sierra Club Rev Up Electric Vehicles report, the Sierra Club finds this problem is still widespread. The difference is there are a lot more people being put off now, because the interest and the demand has increased. The demand is present, but the dealers still think it’s 2010.

Regarding the new Sierra Club survey: “People are eager for EVs, but the auto industry makes it difficult for them to shop for EVs. Instead of investing in an electric future that will meet our climate goals, the auto industry is doubling down on selling internal combustion engine vehicles and failing to train dealerships properly on how to sell EVs.

“We recruited 579 volunteers via email, phone, and media outreach. Collectively, they surveyed more than 909 auto dealerships and stores across all 50 states.” The results are not uplifting.

Tesla is top, well it is only electric. The chart matches my experiences, with BMW especially informative,  except that I had a very good experience at Toyota testing the Prius Prime as well. Individual salespeople vary — some I encountered were service oriented and helpful. Others were just slogging through their job. But there’s more. …

Hieu Le states: “Automakers like GM, Toyota, and Fiat-Chrysler have been the target of public outrage when the news broke recently that they are siding with the Trump administration in its plan to eviscerate the clean car standards and take away the ability of California and the other ‘clean car states’ to enact strong clear car and clean air standards. These include standards requiring automakers to sell increasing numbers of electric vehicles.”

To say or believe that consumers aren’t interested is to be unconscious at this time (if not manipulative). Le notes that a recent study by Consumer Reports and the Union of Concerned Scientists found that nearly two-thirds of prospective US buyers are interested in buying an electric vehicle in the future. EV sales went up 81% in 2018 over the previous year.

There is a more widespread education ongoing on the total cost of ownership, environmental concerns, technology advances, drops in price (especially for used EVs), and good deals on leased EVs. This rising consciousness regarding zero-emission electric vehicles includes all incomes, regions, and ethnicities.

All charts from the Rev Up Electric Vehicles report.

Related stories:

Fresh Buyers Guide For Electric Vehicles

Chevy Bolt & Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Camry — 5 Year Cost Of Ownership

Big Oil’s & Big Short’s Tesla Smears Reach Far & Wide

 
 

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)



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