What Dealers Need To Teach EV Salespeople & Customers (Part 4)

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This article is part of a series. You can find Part 1 here.

Charging Away From Home (Continued)

Another thing you need to know about fast charging is that it won’t give a consistent speed through the whole charging session. When the temperature is right and the battery pack is low (but not critically low), the car will usually charge at full speed. But, when it starts to get around 50-60% full, speeds will taper down to protect the battery pack. After 80%, it slows down even more. After 95-98%, it will slow to a crawl (even slower than Level 1 charging).

I once saw an Uber driver in a rented Chevy Bolt EV cursing and yelling at a Level 3 charger. I asked him what’s wrong, and he said “It won’t go past 98%. It’s going all slow, and I want to get a full battery.” Someone had rented the man a car to go make a living with and didn’t tell him anything about charge tapering. Once I explained it to him, he breathed a sigh of relief and said, “I wondered why it was slow to get to a hundred percent. Thanks.”

Unless a trip planner tells you that you need a full or near full charge to get somewhere, it’s a waste of time to charge past about 80%. If you can stop at 50-60% and make it to another charger with 10-20% remaining, that’s even better, because every charging stop will take advantage of the fastest charging the car can do. A little planning and never charging to a higher percentage than you need to (plus 10% or so for a buffer if you’re nervous) helps you get there faster.

Another thing with this is that you can’t take the maximum charging speed and divide the battery pack’s capacity by that number to get the time you’ll spend at chargers. The tapering process after 50-60% means you’ll spend more time on long charge sessions.

Finally, it’s generally not a great idea to speed down the highway in an EV. You’ll burn the energy a lot faster and need to charge for longer (and to higher percentages) at each stop. This means that any time saved by going fast just gets eaten up at the next charging stop, and then some. Taking it easy on the highway in an EV often means you’ll get there faster.

A vehicle buyer that walks away from your dealer knowing all of this will be a happier customer who doesn’t run into any nasty surprises.

Vehicle Maintenance

I’ve seen many EV enthusiasts online say that EVs need no maintenance. That’s definitely not true, and any customer who believes these morons and neglects their car will likely have a worse experience. Plus, getting them to come in for service is good for business, right?

You do want to use the reduced maintenance as a selling point, but you also want to make sure they understand that it is still a car. Like any other car, there is work that it will need.

First off, basically everything outside of the propulsion systems is the same as other cars. Tires, suspension parts, brakes, and even a cooling system will need to be checked on. There’s usually a coolant reserve tank (that needs to be checked) somewhere under the hood, as well as a brake master cylinder and its tank. The air conditioning system is also very similar to that on a gas car, and could require refrigerant (freon) refills, leak repairs, or a new compressor or condenser.

In the drive system, there’s no gas engine, but there is usually a single-speed gear reducer and in some cases a 2- or 3-speed transmission. Whatever type of gears it has, it will need gear oil or transmission fluid flushes and fills periodically. The CV boots on axles (for independent suspension EVs) will also need to be inspected periodically, and replaced if they wear out.

Most EVs have a 12-volt battery (usually) under the hood to power the electronics. If that battery wears out (it will), the car will not start. The main battery pack has contactors that must be activated by the power of the 12-volt battery before the car’s electronics can be powered by the main pack. The 12-volt battery must be replaced every 2-3 years when it begins to fail.

Finally, it’s a good idea to take care of the vehicle’s main battery pack. To get the longest life out of it, it’s best to keep it between 20-80% charge as much as possible. It’s OK to charge the car to 100% before you go, but if possible, you should set a charge timer so that the 100% happens just a few minutes before departure. If you’re going to leave the car parked for more than a few days, it’s also a good idea to get it to around 50% charge to minimize degradation.

Setting Expectations

After reading all this, you’re probably thinking that this could end up being a huge information overload for a potential buyer, and you’re right. You’ll probably need to present a basic version of it pre-sale, and give them more detailed information during delivery.

Another possible way to present all this information, and maybe make some more sales, would be to offer free classes for the public. Either learn this information yourself and present it, or find a local EV owners’ club to come help. This can allow people to know the basics of EV ownership and feel comfortable buying one. Plus, if you were involved in teaching the free class, you’ll be a trusted person to go to when they’re ready to buy.

However you choose to present the information, it’s important that you share it and set reasonable expectations. Set expectations too low, and people won’t buy an EV. Set expectations too high, and people will be disappointed when the car isn’t the fairly tale they were sold. Neither of these outcomes is good for business, and they can both be avoided with knowledge followed by honesty.

Be There After The Sale, Too

One final key is to be there after the sale to help people figure things out. It could get annoying if you sell enough EVs, but if you’re there for them to ask for help and advice, you’ll be the person they come to again or send their family to.

I’ll try to do that, too. If you’re getting set up selling EVs at a dealer, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and I’ll help you get the basics figured out.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1994 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba