Cahill, Eric, Jamie Davies, Thomas S. Turrentine (2014) New Car Dealers and Retail Innovation in California's Plug-In Electric Vehicle Market. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Working Paper UCD-ITS-WP-14-04
Innovative new products like plug-in electric vehicles may need new approaches to market and sell them. We conducted 43 interviews with automakers and dealers selling plug-in vehicles in California’s major metro markets and analyzed data on customer satisfaction with new car dealers and Tesla retail stores. Initial findings revealed:
- Plug-in vehicle buyers rated the dealer purchase experience much lower than conventional vehicle buyers while Tesla earned industry-high scores;
- Plug-in buyers expect more from dealers than conventional buyers, including product knowledge and support that extends beyond traditional offerings;
- Profits from plug-in vehicles may not be compelling enough to convince more dealers to take on the greater demands of selling these alternatives;
- New retail approaches undertaken by dealer “pioneers”, including new methods for building and scaling dealer competence, could improve the PEV buying experience; and
- More "retail friendly" public incentives could improve program effectiveness.