Volkswagen has announced that it will be spending $20 million in a bid to make its 600 US dealers into “regional hubs of EV experience” through its nationwide Network Readiness Co-Op Program.
The Volkswagen program also hopes “to enhance consumer access” by helping its network of franchise dealers to “establish the underlying EV infrastructure” available at their stores. Read that as upgraded service centers and high-capacity chargers, for a start, but also training more than 1200 service technicians and sales staff on the ins and outs of EVs.
“It’s the consumer who will lead America’s electric vehicle revolution,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “And it’s our dealership partners who bring their communities into electric vehicles, providing unmatched service and expertise. We’re dedicated to fully support them in this journey. With nine out of ten Volkswagen ID.4 buyers identifying as first-time EV buyers, I’ve never been more confident that the electric future is driven by Volkswagen.”
It’s an interesting take, highlighting the consumer market’s push towards EVs in a climate where many celebrate each new government mandate for them. It’s doubly interesting when you consider that Volkswagen seems to be sidestepping its dealers entirely with its AutoAbo subscription plan in Germany. Sure, that’s only in Europe — but only in Europe for now.
Similarly, for now, the dealers seem genuinely eager to accept Volkswagen sponsored help in covering their training costs. “I believe with the commitment Volkswagen has put forth to electrification along with the service and support the dealer body will offer, Volkswagen will be the top choice on consumers’ shopping lists when looking to go electric,” says Tom McMenamin, Volkswagen National Dealer Chairman and Dealer Principal of Toms River Volkswagen in Toms River, NJ. “I am very excited for the electric future with Volkswagen.”
Not that anyone asked, but it’s clear that the biggest hesitation people have about switching to EVs isn’t how effectively their Volkswagen dealer can explain or service their cars. Rather, it’s the visibility of the “electric fuel” that goes into the cars and keeps them running. If mainstream buyers don’t know the charging station is there, it really doesn’t matter whether the dealer knows how to service EVs or not.
That’s just my take, though — what’s yours? Do you think VW’s dealers will learn their lessons well and push the emobility revolution along, or is this just a speed bump in the way of the electric hype train that’s going to wipe out the dealers? Scroll down to the comments and let us know.