Electric vehicles still unavailable at most dealerships: Sierra Club report

In 2016, the Sierra Club published “Rev Up Electric Vehicles: Multi-State Study of the Electric Vehicle Shopping Experience.” Volunteers for the non-profit went undercover to document the experience of buying an EV. We covered it at the time, and it wasn’t a good look for legacy OEMs’ dealerships. Now, three years later and with the help of volunteers across America, the Sierra Club has published a follow-up, this time covering all fifty states, and the results still reflect very poorly on legacy auto dealerships. For starters, 74% of American auto dealerships still aren’t selling any electric vehicles. But the fault isn’t just on dealerships.

The report makes clear that it’s not just the dealerships failing to market EVs, but also legacy OEMs. The Sierra Club says that “Automakers talk a good game about their desire to accelerate the EV market”, and yet the non-profit found that OEMs spend “28 times more on national advertising for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles than on advertising EVs”.

Another shocking finding: of the 26% of dealerships that did have an EV to sell, “66% of them did not display them prominently, with vehicles sometimes buried far in the back and hard to spot.” The report also contains a litany of stats about how poorly educated dealership salespeople appear to be on EVs; not only did they not know about the cars, they would frequently neglect to mention the federal tax credit.

Yesterday we reported on how Geely’s Polestar brand has adopted the Tesla gallery/store like experience to sell its EVs, that move certainly looks all the more prudent now, although no stores in the USA have been announced.

You can read the full Sierra Club report here (PDF, 5MB).

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