EV’S AND DEALERSHIPS:
It’s an exciting moment for the automotive industry. There’s been tons of buzz about new technologies, from electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles to buying cars online and offering concierge options for service and repairs.
Most of the buzz today is about electric vehicles. You can’t turn on the news without hearing a new announcement about how an automaker is bringing new EVs to market. More than 20 EV models are available this year. General Motors alone says it will have 30 new EV models by 2025.
Plus, the government has big plans to promote EV adoption, with expanding tax credits and expanded goals for low- or zero-emission vehicles.
The biggest difference between today and five or 10 years ago is that EVs are now in the mass market. Instead of high-end or luxury vehicles, we are now talking about $40,000 Volkswagens, $35,000 Chevrolets. The biggest announcement so far is the Ford F150 Lightning, the most mass-market vehicle in existence.
In the past, EV buyers were affluent buyers who knew what they wanted to buy, weren’t particularly price sensitive, weren’t usually buying a primary vehicle, but were largely willing to buy a vehicle sight unseen.
Today’s EVs and EV buyers are different. Ford’s F150, the biggest-selling vehicle in America for 40 years, now has an electric version. Chevys, Fords, Hyundais, Toyotas, VWs—these are all mass-market brands for mass-market customers. These customers are price sensitive. They are buying their primary vehicles, and they may not know exactly what vehicle they want when they start looking, so they need to be able to kick the tires.
Getting millions of consumers into millions of new EVs is a monumental task. And the best way to do it is to leverage the 16,000-plus local dealerships across the U.S., more than 200 [# OF DEALERSHIPS IN YOUR STATE] of which are here in Kansas [YOUR STATE]. So let’s leverage their locations in communities everywhere. Let’s leverage the technical know-how of more than 100,000 factory-trained and certified technicians across the nation.
Kansas [YOUR STATE] dealerships employ more than 200 [NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN YOUR STATE] people in good-paying jobs with opportunities for advancement into management roles, even without a four-year college degree. The average employee at a Kansas [YOUR STATE] dealership, in sales or service or management, makes nearly $70,000 per year. Factory-trained and certified technicians complete millions of repair orders every year.
Automakers and dealers are working to get these new electric vehicles on the road—and keep them on the road with world-class service.
We hear a lot about the manufacturing side of EVs. As I said before, news outlets tell us about a new announcement every day. And I can tell you that on the dealership side, when it comes to EVs, local dealerships are all in.
They are getting new equipment and charging stations. They are training their technicians and salespeople. They are educating customers about EVs. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested nationwide.
But while EVs are terrific vehicles, they are not for everyone—at least not yet. So local dealerships offer options for folks who may like the basic idea, but for now may prefer a plug-in hybrid, where you drive mostly on the battery but can switch to gasoline if you need to go long distances. Again, it’s the dealership’s job to get the customer into the vehicle that fits that person best. Our customers want options, and that is what dealerships provide.
The federal and state governments have huge goals for EV adoption, as do automakers. And we are no longer talking about luxury vehicles or niche vehicles for wealthy customers who know exactly what they want and are not sensitive to price.
We are dealing with mass-market customers, who need help with their trade-ins, financing, titling and registration. Who must be able to service their vehicle locally.
And the best way to bring EVs to the mass market is to leverage the existing network of more than 16,000 local dealerships in communities across the country, with more than 1.1 million trained employees in sales, service and management. In other words, we need to leverage the tremendously successful, reliable and powerful dealership network, not scrap it.
Moreover, consumers need protections when it comes to buying vehicles and having them serviced. Mass-market customers require local service and can’t afford to send their cars to far-off service centers or wait weeks for service to their primary, and perhaps only, vehicle. State laws have afforded those protections and they need to continue to apply equally to dealerships and manufacturers. Bottom line, dealerships and manufacturers must play by the same set of rules when it comes to selling and servicing cars, whatever technology they feature.
One of the best things about the dealership network is the people. As I mentioned, more than 1.1 million people work in dealerships nationwide with good-paying jobs in sales, service and management. Jobs in virtually every community in America, with opportunities for advancement into management roles, even without a four-year college degree. Dealerships offer opportunities for Americans from all walks of life, and they are always hiring and always training.
Local dealerships have been around for generations. They have always adapted to change, and we are on the cusp of a major change with EVs. It’s a truly exciting time to be in this industry.