The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is educating car dealers so that they can assist customers in purchasing electric vehicles.

  • A high-angle shot of a salesperson conversing with customers in a car showroom
  • The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) announced today that it will collaborate with Chargeway to train member dealers in electric vehicle sales techniques.
  • Following the conclusion of a pilot program in Oregon, it became clear that many dealers needed to train their salespeople on electric vehicles; however, once they did, EV sales increased.

Dealers must be able to explain the charging methodology, but there are numerous other features that must be explained, including how to locate charging stations and how to claim tax incentives for electric vehicle purchases.

For more than a decade, franchised auto dealers have acted as a hindrance rather than a facilitator in the sale of electric vehicles (EVs). However, it is possible that this will change in the near future. If everything goes according to plan, new-car shoppers may soon discover that dealerships are eager to assist them in learning about electric vehicles (EVs) and, in particular, how they are charged, which is a major source of misunderstanding among not only shoppers but also salespeople themselves.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) announced today that it has selected Chargeway to assist its member dealerships in explaining electric vehicle charging and demonstrating how shoppers can travel in electric vehicles by taking advantage of charging stations located along their routes. Exclusively for Car and Driver, NADA and Chargeway provided an advance look at the news.

Customers may soon be able to enter their travel patterns into dealer websites to learn how and where to charge electric vehicles both locally and while traveling long distances. Local electric utilities, as well as the federal and state governments, will be represented on dealer websites, which will detail all relevant financial incentives. Shoppers are encouraged to educate themselves on how electric vehicles can fit into their lifestyles before ever setting foot in a dealership.

Chargeway first gained attention in 2017 for its simple, intuitive, color-coded visual language for identifying and distinguishing EV charging stations. In 2018, the company received a patent for the technology. It quickly expanded to assist Oregonians in better understanding and selling electric vehicles (EVs) by placing large kiosks right in showrooms. Those allowed salespeople and shoppers to work together to find charging stations in their immediate vicinity and along routes that a driver had specified, displaying how to route a trip among charging stations and how much (or how little) time to spend at each station, among other things.

Early on, the Oregon Auto Dealers Association recognized the difficulties its members were having in effectively selling electric vehicles, which provided an incentive for the organization to collaborate with Chargeway to pilot the system at willing dealerships. Additionally, information on incentives available from the state of Oregon for purchasing an electric vehicle, as well as information from relevant local electric utilities on charging rates, incentives for installing a home charging station, and other EV-related purchases, were available at the information stations.

A small test conducted with a small number of dealers provided conclusive proof: Dealers with Chargeway kiosks sold more EVs than comparable dealers without them because they were more effective in educating shoppers about EV charging and how the cars could be used for longer road trips.

The final step was to incorporate Chargeway's mapping, routing, and education features, which were already available through the company's phone app and showroom kiosks, into the websites of participating dealers. According to the new partners, it was this that ultimately convinced NADA to invest in Chargeway.

Mike Stanton, CEO and president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said, "We looked at a number of different training tools and consumer apps." The group discovered that Chargeway "provided the most comprehensive answers to the questions our dealers were asking about EV charging, including how long it takes, how home charging works, what incentives are available, and even how temperature and speed affect an EV road trip."

The turnaround is remarkable because electric vehicle advocates have known for years that dealers have been reluctant to sell EVs—even when doing so was extremely practical. Hundreds of electric vehicle shoppers reported that when they visited dealers, they were met with disinterested or uninformed salespeople, some of whom said things about EVs that weren't true—and many of whom worked hard to persuade them to purchase a gasoline vehicle instead.

In a report released in November 2019 by the Sierra Club, Rev Up Electric Vehicles: A Nationwide Study of the EV Shopping Experience, the organization demonstrated the scope of the problem.

Three-quarters of dealers said they didn't sell any electric vehicles at all. Salespeople failed to provide any information about how to charge an electric vehicle in 28 percent of the dealerships visited by "secret shoppers." In addition, 31 percent of the dealers visited did not provide information on state and federal incentives for electric vehicle purchases.

One of the most concerning findings was that one out of every ten dealers who did sell EVs did not have a test vehicle that had been sufficiently recharged to allow for a test drive.

That won't be an option for much longer, unfortunately. Within the next few years, every car manufacturer selling in the United States will offer at least one electric vehicle. Larger automakers, ranging from General Motors and Ford to Volkswagen and Hyundai-Kia, have announced plans to offer complete EV lineups while trimming their gasoline lineups, with the goal of completely eliminating gasoline vehicles by 2035 or later. This coincides with California's intention to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and light trucks in that same year as well.

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