An investigative study conducted by researchers in Nordic countries found salespeople to be extremely anti-electric vehicle when the mystery shoppers were poking around.
According to the report, “Dismissive and deceptive car dealerships create barriers to electric vehicle adoption at the point of sale,” researchers visited 82 car dealerships in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. Pretending to be everyday customers, the researchers found that “…dealers were dismissive of EVs, misinformed shoppers on vehicle specifications, omitted EVs from the sales conversation and strongly oriented customers towards petrol and diesel vehicle options. “
This is a rather familiar situation, as it was just last year when market research firm Ipsos RDA sent mystery shoppers to 141 dealerships in America’s 10 largest EV markets to document the EV sales experience, many of which received less than glowing marks. Of course, in this instance, dealerships were woefully unprepared to cater to the EV market versus turning customers away from EVs outright. From one dealership to the next, even within the same brand family, one salesperson seemed knowledgeable and eager to help shoppers find the right EV, while the the next was not prepared to educate customers about plug-in cars.
This highlights a bigger issue at traditional brand dealers. In the U.S., it was reported that shoppers experienced a “passive” process. Dealerships hadn’t customized the sales process for EVs. Electric cars often weren’t available on the lot to view or to test drive. EV ownership information, via sales staff or marketing materials, both in-store and online, was lacking.
At the very least, the U.S. is still inconsistent when it comes to EV sales, but at least are not turning customers away from the idea of EV ownership.
At one dealership, the Scandinavian researchers were told, “Do not buy this electric car, it will ruin you financially.”
“We essentially found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most car dealerships do not want to sell electric vehicles, even though they cost more … than ordinary vehicles,” Benjamin Sovacool, a professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex and one of the study’s researchers, reported Digital Trends. “This creates a key barrier to adoption that has not yet been addressed by policy, let alone explored systematically in research.”