Surprise, Surprise: Car Dealers Say Biden Moving Too Fast On EVs — Dragging Their Feet Again

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Car dealers have been an issue for electric vehicle sales during this whole modern electric vehicle era. One of the biggest decisions Tesla made early on was that it needed to sell its vehicles to consumers directly — that if it tried to go through auto dealers, it wouldn’t do well and would quickly die. The was surely one of the most important decisions that led to the company’s massive success.

Auto dealers have been notorious for misinforming potential buyers about electric vehicles, stuffing them in the back corner of the lot uncharged, complaining about them, and lobbying against EVs. It seemed things might be getting a bit better as the industry has matured and nearly every car company is spending a lot to advertise their electric cars, their “leadership” in EVs, and to develop new EVs. However, the seeds of disinterest in and resentment for full electric vehicles continue to sprout. The soil is rich and the EV negativity doesn’t stop sprouting.

According to one recent survey, a whopping 83% of auto dealers contend that the federal government under Joe Biden is pushing the transition to electric vehicles too hard. The Automotive News 2024 Dealer Outlook Survey got responses from 208 car dealers and dealership managers (in the US). So, this 83% result is no joke — responses came from far and wide.

The big driver of change in this realm from the federal government comes from EPA emissions rules. In particular, dealers say they are concerned about the time period 2027–2032, when it’s been forecasted that current EPA emissions rules for cars could lead to 67% EV market share of new car sales (a level far beyond today’s).

“EVs weren’t generating customer interest or sales at their stores,” auto dealers argued in the survey. Dealers blamed affordability and charging concerns. I assume the bigger problem is dealers not trying hard enough to explain the many big benefits of EVs. Though, it’s fair that they’re arguing they need cheaper EVs to sell — everyone agrees on that. Also, they pushed for more affordable and diverse hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the survey. Naturally, then they don’t have to explain as much about charging and can just sit the customer down at a desk, shove papers at them to sign, go to the back to chit-chat with the manager in order to add more fees and charges, and milk more money out of you without providing more value. But I digress….

How much are responses like these genuine responses and auto dealers are really struggling to sell BEVs? How much are they a matter of auto dealers not caring, not trying, and essentially lobbying to just keep things the way they are?

Back to the top, there’s no doubt about it — Joe Biden has strongly pushed vehicle electrification as President of the United States and got a few giant policies in place to support that. From the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden government has been supporting EV infrastructure buildout, subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles, and going much deeper and subsidizing the mining, processing, production, and packing of battery minerals and battery cells. The Biden government is pushing for electrification through EPA rule making on vehicle emissions, but it’s also supporting and accelerating the transition to EVs with legislation making EV purchasing and EV charging easier. So, can dealers really legitimately complain about the former while ignoring the latter?

And ignore the latter they do! “Surprisingly, 57% of respondents thought that the new point-of-sale rebate for the federal EV tax credit would have no effect on EV sales, or they were unsure,” Green Car Reports writes. “More than half still haven’t registered for the rebate and 22% said they did not plan to register.” Willful ignorance, neglect, misinformation, and laziness continue to be auto dealership traits that lead to worse-than-possible EV sales.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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