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Most auto dealerships in the United States are unprepared to promote EVs. However, with automakers progressively transitioning to electric cars, they will have no choice but to take on the burden of sustaining an increasingly electric-powered inventory in the not-too-distant future.
When that day comes, dealers must discover ways to sell more electric vehicles by addressing the challenges of marketing unfamiliar products to an apprehensive and potentially skeptical customer base.
This article outlines four such strategies that dealers should consider.
4 Ways to Sell More Electric Vehicles
The following are four strategies all dealers should consider as electrification becomes a focal point in the auto industry:
1. Educate and Train the Sales Team
Any dealer intending to market an EV will first need to know the basic pros and cons compared to internal combustion engines. These talking points allow sales teams to promote EVs and become industry leaders and authorities (discussed in more detail later) while remaining transparent and setting the proper customer expectations.
Three significant pros of purchasing EVs are:
Most EVs have a significant safety advantage because they run on small battery packs instead of large, bulky engines. Smaller space requirements mean companies can focus less on how to fit everything under the hood and more on safety designs.
EVs require far less maintenance than their ICE counterparts. For example, there are no:
- Oil changes
- Timing belt replacements
- Valve replacements
- ICE-related tune-ups and engine repairs
Also, because EVs use the electric motor to slow down and recharge the battery, they do not require brake service as often as traditional cars.
While the cost of electricity has risen over time, those increases are virtually insignificant compared to spikes in gas prices.
Conversely, three significant cons of purchasing EVs are:
Charging Times Can Hamper Longer Trips
The major disadvantage of EVs is the time necessary to charge between trips. This investment is not necessarily a concern for home charging because customers can plug in their cars overnight. However, this can become a significant inconvenience during long road trips where customers might need to break anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before resuming their travels.
Charging Stations are Still Limited
Charging stations are still scarce in certain areas. For the reasons outlined above, sales teams should research their local availability and communicate to customers where they can and (potentially) cannot go depending on the stations along any given route.
Towing Cargo Consumes Power
Customers hauling cargo with an EV pickup truck might lose half of their driving range towing small trailers and up to 3/4 of that range pulling a large trailer.
2. Reshape F&I
EVs differ from ICE in several ways, necessitating F&I contracts that consider those distinctions, such as:
- Use of an electric motor in place of a gasoline-powered engine
- A controller that provides power to that motor
- Rechargeable batteries that, in turn, provide power to that controller
These changes impact maintenance requirements, as well as F&I contracts. Newer EV technologies, like battery packs and software, require routine maintenance.
Because an EV does not have an engine, it does not require oil changes. However, other standard services, such as tire rotations, may occur more often. EVs carry more weight than their ICE counterparts and use energy-efficient tires that might wear faster, resulting in more frequent stops for tire inspections and replacements.
Given these maintenance variations, consumers are now looking for EV-tailored F&I contracts to provide them with peace of mind. A specialized EV offering enables dealers to retain these customers for ongoing service appointments, helping to cultivate a long-term relationship.
3. Rethink the Service Concept
Because EVs require less maintenance, dealerships must find new ways to support healthy income streams tied to EV services.
These new strategies might include more efficiently using data to provide a consistent cycle of service and maintenance opportunities to both EV and ICE customers.
More specifically, the following are ways that dealers can use technology and data to mitigate the impact of expected lower servicing profitability caused by the impending EV surge:
- Leverage OEM APIs (Application Programming Interface). Not all data management system (DMS) vendors view working with OEMs as an opportunity for industry innovation or improving data integration. However, dealers should stay on the lookout for those providers who promote continuous improvement and collaborate with OEMs to improve customer and user experiences by integrating real-time data.
- Leverage AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning to Upsell. Dealer data should interact via AI and machine learning to automate communications and sales without adding to the manual data input workload.
- Cut Costs and Reduce Operation Challenges, Automation and integration are crucial, and all dealers should consider technology that unifies inter-departmental data, simplifies third-party add-ons, and streamlines procedures.
- Integrate the best technology. Dealers should work with a solutions partner who provides the most up-to-date and innovative technologies that streamline workflows and operations.
4. Tweak the Marketing Methodology
The emergence of EVs will require dealers to fine-tune their marketing method, combining traditional ICE strategies with a more educational approach as follows:
- Market EV and ICE Side-by-Side. Many customers begin their traditional car-buying experiences at home by reading social media posts, watching television commercials, and conducting online research. As a result, dealers should consider promoting electric vehicles in the same manner.
EV buyers will look for vehicles in various mid-size and SUV classifications like their ICE counterparts. The most efficient way to promote this diverse range of automobiles is to display them alongside ICE in the lot.
- Become a Trusted EV Advisor Through Education. Successful dealers with loyal customers have authority in their surrounding communities. As touched upon earlier, they can leverage that influence to establish themselves as trusted advisors by educating clients about EVs throughout the buying process.
This procedure may include using a well-established data source that aids clients in making well-informed selections.
Educating and helping first-time EV buyers through the process adds value and may provide dealers with a competitive advantage.
- Leverage Digital Marketing. Dealers can provide this customer education via multiple channels, including social media platforms and relevant website content.
Communications might be in the form of any of the following:
- Social media posts
- Thought leadership blogs
- Customer Testimonials
Potential customers may be more inclined to trust dealerships that supply genuine and informative online content.
Selling More Electric Vehicles Requires the Right Technology
The transition to electric vehicles is here, fueled by increased environmental concerns, government regulations, and financial incentives, and the challenges that this shift offers are growing.
Fortunately, dealerships can combine the strategies above with the industry’s best data-driven, integrated technologies to sell more electric vehicles.
All | February 15, 2024