Published on January 24th, 2020 | by Johnna Crider0
Baton Rouge Dealer Thinks No One Is Interested In EVs
January 24th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
A Baton Rouge dealer recently gave his thoughts about EVs and explained to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report why he believes there is no interest in EVs in our area. I am in the “Tesla Louisiana – Owners And Dreamers” group on Facebook, where the article was shared. Many members of our group had a lot to say about this article since it sparked a lot of FUD and misinformation about Tesla and EVs in general — mainly by those who stand to benefit from selling gas-powered vehicles.
Quick Summary of the Article.
Baton Rouge dealer Matt McBrayer of Royal Automotive Group told the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report that “interest is nearly nonexistent” when it comes to EVs. He believes that even though many Louisiana residents have bought EVs, very few people are buying green vehicles in the Capital Region. “The vehicles are a viable option, but there needs to be more interest in the car for more people to understand that,” he elaborates.
His group only sells the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which is actually a plug-in hybrid, not a fully electric vehicle, and the Nissan LEAF. He says his group sold one or two of these vehicles last year. Daily Report points out that there were 613 EV sales throughout the state in 2018, which is up 116.61% from the 283 sales from the previous year. There’s also talk of what would deter someone in our area from buying an EV. Daily Report breaks down two main deterrents when it comes to adopting EVs:
- Gas prices. Louisiana has some of the lowest gas prices in the nation. Baton Rouge has also been listed as the lowest in the nation many times.
- Slow Chargers. None of the chargers in Baton Rouge are fast chargers. “Rumors have stated that the new Tesla Supercharger in Lafayette, which is coming along beautifully, will be V3 … but these would be only for Tesla EVs.”
Executive Vice President John Spain of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) says that the city-parish recently applied for funds to install fast chargers at the Water Campus. A decision is expected to be made sometime in early 2020 (so, soon, perhaps). In 2016, they partnered before to install 11 chargers downtown and in parking garages.
I can understand why McBrayer believes there is no interest in EVs — I don’t agree with him, but I can see his perception. He doesn’t sell Tesla vehicles. Tesla is the top selling EV brand — by far — with the Model 3 even outselling all of its gas-powered competitors. So, it’s natural for McBrayer to think there isn’t any real interest in EVs — he’s not making money off of them. Also, many wouldn’t even consider a PHEV as an EV, because you still need fuel — its a hybrid.
McBrayer has low demand because his customers are simply not coming to him for EVs. They’re going elsewhere. The companies he represents aren’t catering to the needs of EV owners, or if they are, he’s not really focusing on marketing those products to them in the right ways.
This may be intentional or unintentional — but if you want a certain type of group to buy from you, you need to sell them what they want. People want Teslas. Maybe have one or two used Teslas in stock and go from there. Alex Katz of NOLA Motorcars (another Louisiana dealership), who is part of our local Tesla group, told us, “As a dealer in Louisiana, this is just a bad sample. I am seeing a very strong demand for electric vehicles and have struggled to keep Leafs and Teslas in stock.”
I don’t own a vehicle (though, I did reserve a Cybertruck) and walk or take Uber or the bus to get to where I need to go. Every time I go somewhere, I always see a Tesla. I saw one at the post office the other day, one when I went grocery shopping (the owner turned out to be someone in the same Louisiana Tesla Owners Facebook group I am in), and so on. However, the Louisiana FUD Fighters have had their hands full with some of the lies and misinformation being passed around regarding the Tesla New Orleans Service Center.
The false claim above seems to be by a local dealership owner (Acura/Infinity of Baton Rouge). He claims that Tesla’s service center in New Orleans is unable to service any Teslas bought by customers. This claim is simply false. I’ll just note that the person spamming the comments with these false claims could actually be someone using the dealership owner’s name, not the guy himself, but if it is the owner, this isn’t how you market your product.
Casey Meyer, who I’ve interviewed, has had her Model X serviced by Tesla thanks to this service center. “I haven’t actually set foot inside the center but they definitely fixed up my car there, and I had a wonderful experience,” she tells me. Her issue was that she had a flat tire in New Orleans in the middle of the night.
“Tesla had someone tow the car to the service center (Saturday night) and I dropped the key off in a locked box. Then they contacted me on Monday morning. They replaced the flat tire, did an alignment that I badly needed, squeezed in fixing another issue I had already scheduled 2 weeks out so that I didn’t have to come back again. Then they left the car out for me New Year’s Day so that I could pick it up then instead of having to take off work.”
The truth is that it’s not that there is no demand for EVs in Louisiana. The demand is there. However, if you are in a company that has minimal support for EVs or the type of EVs you are selling aren’t what people want, you will see evidence that there is no demand for what you are selling. Just because you don’t think there is demand in an area because you are not seeing it, however, doesn’t mean there isn’t demand. Perhaps this should help McBrayer change how he sees things and maybe incorporate different EVs into his business.
Photo of the pier in Baton Rouge by Johnna Crider (me)