Dealers Face Uphill Battle with Consumers in EV Adoption

electric vehicle charging stations

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by | Jun 29, 2023

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Electric vehicle dealers are facing a new challenge – consumer enthusiasm for EVs isn’t necessarily translating into purchasing decisions.

That’s according to a recent study, Path to EV Adoption: Consumer and Dealer Perspective from Cox Automotive, which found that while EV consideration is growing rapidly, sales are lagging. A whopping 51% of consumers are now considering a new or used EV, up from 38% in 2021. However, less than 8% of total new-vehicle sales in 2023 will be EVs, and used EVs sales will account for 1%, the study found.

That’s as Cox Automotive forecasts that 1 million new EVs will be sold in the U.S. in 2023.

The study surveyed 1,024 consumers and 152 dealers, revealing several positive trends for dealers among consumer sentiment. Consumers are actually more optimistic about the future of EVs compared to dealers, with 53% of consumers agreeing that EVs are the future and will largely replace gas vehicles over time, compared to just 31% of dealers. Another 45% of dealers said EVs need to prove themselves in the market. The sentiments come as the EV market is heating up, with more than 50 additional new or updated EVs launching in 2023.

Less than half – 46% – of dealers said they were extremely prepared for selling EVs, compared to 54% that were not prepared at all or neutral. The findings were similar for servicing EVs.

“Education for both consumers and dealers remains a critical factor in driving widespread confidence and adoption of electric vehicles,” Kayla Reynolds, manager of Research & Market Intelligence, at Cox Automotive Mobility, said in a statement. “For dealers specifically, preparation is paramount, and our findings emphasize the urgency of equipping dealers with EV sales and servicing capabilities to meet the needs and demands of EV buyers.”

One barrier to dealers is infrastructure, even as consumers prefer dealers for EV maintenance. 

“We still need more infrastructure for DC fast charge and more technicians dedicated to BEVs,” one franchised dealer said in the report. 

Dealers are also lacking education when it comes to battery health, as 63% of dealers said they are slightly or not at all familiar with battery health diagnostic tools. 

Overall, dealers should be aware there is a gap between consumer interest and actual purchasing when it comes to EVs, but dealers have a role to play in market adoption, as well. Closing the readiness gap and improving knowledge around battery health and servicing will likely promote the growth of the EV market. 

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