After numerous complaints from consumers who wanted to buy electric cars that dealers steered them toward gas guzzlers, Consumer Reports decided to put salespeople to the test.
The trusted magazine sent 19 secret shoppers to 85 dealers in four states to make anonymous visits between December 2013 and March 2014.
The result: dealers are not always as in the know about electric cars as they are their gas-using counterparts, sometimes they are less enthusiastic about making EV sales and a few even outright discourage the sale.
During the test, secret shoppers were also asked to take inventory of the number of electric cars each dealer had in stock and what the models were. They also asked salespeople very specific EV-related questions about tax breaks, incentives, charge time, battery life and warranty, as well as whether they should buy or lease.
Ultimately, it came down to whether or not dealers knew what they were talking about in regard to electric cars like Tesla. Some didn’t know much about electric cars at all, especially when it came to questions about tax breaks and incentives. Many didn’t understand that electric car enthusiasts also have specific reasons to lease a car versus buy it.
Interestingly, salespeople at Ford, Chevrolet and Nissan tended to be more in the know about electric cars than those at Honda and Toyota, which makes sense because the aforementioned brands have made greater strides in their own foray into electric car making.
Few dealers had a good amount of electric cars in stock. Only 15 of the 85 had more than 10 available. California was the most EV-friendly. Reasons for the lack of product varied from they were “popular” or “sold out” to “it’s such a new technology that people don’t buy them or want them.”
Overall, only 13 dealers outright discouraged the sales of electric cars, with seven of those hailing from New York. Thirty-five out of 85 dealers were pushed toward a gas-powered car instead.
Source: Consumer Reports