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Electric Cars Face Tough Sell, According to Top Environmental Group

Electric cars have tons of benefits, but according to the Sierra Club, automakers and dealerships are making electric-vehicle (EV) shopping needlessly difficult.

The nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization launched Rev Up EVs, the first-ever multistate study into the consumer EV shopping experience. Volunteers completed surveys after calling or visiting 308 different auto dealerships and stores across 10 states to inquire about EVs.

The result? Dealerships and automakers are falling short, and customers are frustrated.

Automakers Falling Short

“Cleaner, greener and often cheaper, EVs are in high demand. Unfortunately, many automakers and dealers are failing to meet this demand,” said Mary Lunetta, the Sierra Club’s electric-vehicles initiative campaign representative and co-author of the report. “Ranging from not carrying electric vehicles on the lot, to insufficiently charging them for test drives, to not featuring them prominently, to not informing customers of charging capabilities or tax incentives, it’s clear auto dealerships and automakers need to be doing much better to promote and sell electric vehicles.”

In an effort to cut down on carbon emissions and other air pollutants, California has instituted a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which requires car makers to sell more electric cars. The trend is catching on: Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine have followed suit. But even in the 10 states with ZEV laws, the Sierra Club’s report shows that there’s still quite a bit of effort needed in order to achieve full compliance.

Key Findings = Frustrated Shoppers

Among the California dealerships visited for the survey, the average number of EVs on lots was nearly twice that of the nine other ZEV states.

Plus, survey volunteers said that about 33 percent of the time they spoke with a salesperson about an EV, the rep didn’t discuss the federal and state tax credits and rebates available to lower the cost of electric cars.

Car Makers and Dealerships Should Step Up

Automakers may say lagging sales of electric vehicles are a result of low demand, but the study begs to differ.

“The Rev Up EVs report shows automakers and dealerships often aren’t doing their part to sell them,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, the Sierra Club’s electric-vehicles initiative director and co-author of the report. “While some of our survey participants found dealerships are employing impressive best practices to sell a lot of EVs, many encountered roadblock after roadblock in their search for EV inventory, test drives and knowledgeable salespeople.”

In addition to volunteer testimonials, the report also features ranking of automakers for best-to-worst EV shopping experience at dealerships and a list of dealerships visited that were excellent at EV sales.

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