74% of auto dealers aren’t selling EVs — report

Source: By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Auto dealers across the country are failing to sell electric vehicles at the scale necessary to combat climate change and meet consumer demand, a new study has found.

The analysis from the Sierra Club relied on 579 volunteers, who called or visited 909 auto dealerships across the United States to inquire about purchasing an electric car.

The most striking finding was that 74% of dealerships nationwide weren’t selling a single EV and only offered a range of conventional gas-powered vehicles.

Among dealerships that sold electric cars, more than 66% did not display the EVs in a prominent location, with vehicles sometimes hidden at the back of the showroom.

And among all dealerships visited, 28% had salespeople who provided no information about how to charge an EV, while 31% had salespeople who provided no information on state and federal EV tax credits.

“The auto industry needs to end its greenwashing claim that it’s committed to an electric future when, in reality, automakers and dealerships are dragging their feet to offer consumers the electric vehicles they want and deserve,” Hieu Le, a campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign and the main author of the report, said in a statement.

“It’s past time for the auto industry to put some action behind its promises of progress and work to tackle emissions from transportation,” Le added.

The report builds on a previous study that the Sierra Club released three years ago. That analysis relied on 174 volunteers, who called or visited 308 dealerships in 10 states that had adopted California’s zero-emission vehicle program. It similarly found that EVs were not being displayed in prominent locations, while salespeople lacked basic knowledge of their attributes.

The report also comes after the Trump administration proposed to prevent California from setting its own stricter tailpipe emissions standards. The Sierra Club is one of several environmental groups that has sued to block the proposal.