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EV Boom Needs Dealers to Keep Prices Down, Service High

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

By Ken Ortiz

The New Mexico franchised automotive dealers are proudly leading the way in electric vehicles (EVs). EVs and hybrids have been available through the N.M.-franchised dealer network for more than 20 years. Today, auto dealers from Farmington to Las Cruces and Roswell to Gallup have embraced the global challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and continue to bring more EV and hybrid vehicles to market.

Our business model has evolved and proven effective over the years by incentivizing competition that drives down prices for customers. To meet the government’s and automakers’ goals for EVs, we are leveraging the existing network of 120 N.M. dealerships and their 13,000-plus professional staff. Dealerships know better than anyone how to fit consumers into vehicles that work for them, at prices they can afford, while bridging the gap between the niches within the EV market currently and truly making an impact for our climate over the long term by appealing to the vast majority of car and truck buyers across New Mexico.

Dealers are incredibly excited about the new electrified products being announced and have a path for mass adoption as EV customers come to resemble the average car buyer. It’s the EV customer of the future we need to cater to if we are to have meaningful and broad EV adoption. We are essentially at the doorstep of selling a wide variety of EVs – real, functional, non-niche EVs – to mass-market car buyers where education and training is critical.

Consumers need dealers now more than ever. Whenever there is an unforeseen mechanical, software or electrical problem with new vehicles, manufacturers need a well distributed and educated service network. The existing dealer community is adequately disbursed throughout the state to handle those needs.

Opponents of the franchise system have long said dealers are an impediment to EV sales. This has never been true and, moving forward, this type of thinking will be counterproductive as our collective goal is to put a greater number of EVs on the road.

Past direct-sales legislation proposals concentrated on getting just Tesla in the door. Such legislation would let every EV newcomer and wannabe sell directly – regardless of their financial stability, track record and performance history.

Buying straight from manufacturers enables them to monopolize sales and set prices. Where is the price competition consumers deserve?

This is a critical juncture in our march toward a cleaner future, and it’s a good time for policymakers and stakeholders at all levels to think critically about what it’s going to take to sell EVs in greater volumes to customers who haven’t yet experienced EVs. It’s going to take a network of thousands of knowledgeable sales and service staff located in just about every corner of the state, not just a website or a 1-800 number.

New Mexico has a deeply rooted network of auto dealerships that make purchasing and owning every type of vehicle, including EVs, convenient and affordable. We are your neighbors, sons and daughters. We live in New Mexico and contribute to New Mexico’s economy. There are 120 new-car dealerships across the state, employing 13,725 New Mexicans and accounting for $205 million in sales taxes paid each year.

The existing NM franchise law lowers prices for consumers, generates independent businesses, promotes local investment and tax revenues in our communities, and creates good-paying jobs. The New Mexico auto dealers welcome any additional manufacturer who is willing to comply with this law. However, we do not support changing the existing law, especially to accommodate manufacturers who simply do not wish to comply with the already proven, effective and equitable law. This article originally appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.

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