In the past, it seems like auto dealers were acting as a barrier to, rather than a promoter of, electric and hybrid vehicles. A study conducted by the Sierra Club earlier this year found that nearly half the time, EVs were not displayed prominently, and that the plug-in cars were often hard to find on a dealership lot. Salespeople were not prepared to tell customers about EV features, and in some cases, couldn’t even find the keys for customers interested in a test-drive. The deficiencies were particularly acute outside of California.
Some dealerships, it seems, have turned their EV processes around and have made a commitment to demonstrate the value of electric and hybrid vehicles to shoppers and customers. In central Ohio, 11 auto dealerships are now part of Smart Columbus’s new Electrified Dealer program, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“Dealers are our community’s front-line ambassadors in the effort to show car buyers that electric vehicles are more fun to drive, more affordable to own, better for the environment and easier to maintain than a combustion engine vehicle,” Mark Patton, Vice President of Smart Cities for the Columbus Partnership, said in a news release.
Smart Columbus is the smart city initiative for central Ohio. The organization was the sole winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s first-ever Smart City Challenge. As a result, Columbus was awarded $50 million in funding and designated “America’s Smart City.” The funding will be used to create an acceleration fund of aligned smart city investment to foster a “vision that starts with the reinvention of mobility.”
The dealers participating in the program include Buckeye Honda (which sells the Honda Clarity); Buckeye Nissan (Nissan LEAF); Byers Chrysler Dodge Jeep (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid); Byers Volvo (Volvo XC60 PHEV and Volvo XC90 PHEV); Dave Gill Chevrolet (Chevy Bolt and Chevy Volt); MAG BMW (BMW 330e, BMW530e, BMW i3, BMW i8 and BMW X5 xDrive 40e); Ricart Ford (Ford Fusion Energi); Ricart Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Outlander); Ricart Nissan (Nissan LEAF); Ricart Kia (Kia Optima PHEV) and Tansky Toyota (Toyota Prius).