As the climate change conversation heats up, federal and state policymakers will increasingly incentivize consumers to switch to electric vehicles. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, which passed the U.S. House in November with a bipartisan vote, devotes $7.5 billion to expediting EV adoption and creating a comprehensive charging station network. Additionally, the auto industry has pledged that EVs will account for 40% to 50% of sales by 2030.
Plenty of variables will determine whether this target is feasible. However, this pledge is a signal that the automotive industry is serious about accelerating the transition away from gasoline cars. Major automakers — including Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) — have already set internal sales goals.
Over 61% of consumers prefer to buy from dealerships, so dealerships have an important role to play when it comes to encouraging adoption. By embracing the inevitable transition to electric, dealerships can capitalize on this trend and guide consumers to the vehicles that fit them best. Here’s how:
1. Remind legacy brands of what’s at stake.
Biden’s recently passed infrastructure bill will influence the pace at which consumers adopt electric vehicles. Additionally, a growing number of states have also called for stronger incentives for EV adoption. While combating climate change is usually the focal point of policy discussions, it’s not the only factor in play.
Though EV sales represented just 3% of all domestic new vehicle sales in the first half of 2021, global demand for electric vehicles is skyrocketing, particularly in China and Europe. It’s imperative that automakers meet the rising demand by producing more electric models and partnering with dealerships to promote sales.
2. Showcase the EV customer experience.
For many consumers, the choice between electric- and gas-powered cars ultimately boils down to criteria unrelated to performance. Americans who have never owned an EV before often assume that making the switch will require them to make other major changes, such as managing expensive in-home charging equipment or modifying routes to avoid getting stranded. For some, it just sounds like a hassle.
Dealership showroom design — and the entire EV car buying experience — should focus on alleviating these concerns. By educating prospective buyers on charging equipment and processes in the showroom, dealers can demonstrate the convenience and simplicity of owning EVs and help prospective buyers overcome perceived hurdles.
3. Incentivize EV sales.
If dealerships want to sell more EVs, they should make buying and maintaining them easier and more financially viable for customers. A recent McKinsey & Co. report highlights potential new finance and insurance products — including emergency charging services, extended warranties, and maintenance subscriptions — that could extend EV ownership opportunities to a larger segment of customers.
Modified finance and insurance products aren’t the only incentives dealerships can use to draw in new customers. Dealerships can also implement new servicing capabilities that give them an advantage over competitors. For instance, they could train technicians and other staff members to manage high-voltage systems safely and invest in the right tools to service electric vehicles.
By making small changes to operations now, dealerships can be sure they’re prepared and ahead of the game when the electric future finally arrives in full force.