Franchised Dealers at the Crossroads on Electric Vehicles, Truck CEOs Speaking at ACT Expo

How do you get through to skeptical consumers who’ve never purchased an electric vehicle, and have held onto some false assumptions on the technology? The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) launched an innovative online EV sales training certification program to empower dealership staff, at the NADA Show 2024 in Las Vegas on February 1.

The training program is called ElectrifIQ, and it’s been structured to prepare dealers to address classic consumer questions: charging times and costs, driving range per charge, total cost of ownership, available incentives, and more. CSE is tapping into experience managing statewide EV incentive programs. The San Diego, Calif.-based organization has already done so with state dealer associations in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon on EV training, according to NADA. Dealers can tap into the staff training program for $199 per person or $495 per dealership.

It’s been a steep hill to climb since EVs started being available for sale through dealers in 2011. Nearly half of Buick’s U.S. dealerships, about 1,000, left the brand last year after it offered buyouts for those who didn’t want to invest in selling electric vehicles. They’re not the only dealers to do so, and it’s not all about selling EVs. U.S. franchised dealers have been preparing to retire and sell off assets to family members or competitors for a few years now. But EVs have been the tipping point for many.

If you take a look above at 2023 sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, you can see that some brands and their franchised dealer networks will likely be more interested in trying out ElectrifIQ than others.

Kelley Blue Book’s recent study on U.S. sales of EVs reported that there were 1,189,051 new EVs that were put into service in the U.S. last year. That includes light-duty passenger vehicles, with medium-to-heavy-duty commercial EVs not counted in this report. That included 884,475 total for the top 10 sold, or 74.38% off the total.

Of the new EVs sold in the U.S. last year, 59.3% of all of these vehicles were sold by Tesla and Rivian — who don’t have dealer networks. Both companies use a direct-to-consumer sales model. Tesla had sales of 654,888 vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, three of which you can see in the Top 10 chart above. The fourth vehicles was the Model S, which had 16,466 units sold in the U.S. during 2023. Tesla continued to hold its dominant pace in the American market, with 55.1% of the new light-duty electric vehicles sold last year.

As for the top five non-Tesla automakers in EV sales last year………

  1. Ford also sold 7,672 E-Transit vans.
  2. General Motors decided to bring the Bolt back with strong demand showing up for the car and SUV versions after the company had decided to stop production. As for the other EVs, it was thin for GM: 482 Chevy Blazer SUVs and 461 Chevy Silverado pickup trucks were sold in the U.S. last year.
  3. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 crossover SUV led the way, followed by the Ioniq 6 sedan which came in at 12,999 units sold, and its Kona small SUV coming in at 10,644. The Korean automaker’s Kia and Genesis brands are also selling a decent volume of EVs for being so new to EVs.
  4. Southern California-based Rivian is targeted at fleets and consumers. The R1S SUV was the market leader, followed by 17,726 R1T pickup trucks and 7,679 EDV 500/700 cargo vans.
  5. BMW’s i Series has been revamped more recently to be based on lovers of luxury and sports cars — and willing to pay for it. The German automakers’ market leader in the US EV space has been the i4 Gran Coupe; followed by the iX SUV at 17,301 units sold last year; the i7 luxury sedan at 3,400; and 2,133 of the i5 luxury sedan.

And in other news……….

ACT Expo just announced that top truckmaker CEOs will be speaking at the annual event in May, this time at the Las Vegas Convention Center. ‘CEO Roundtable on Scaling Vehicle Electrification’ will include:

Art Vallely, President, Penske Truck Leasing (Moderator)  
Mathias Carlbaum, Chief Executive Officer, Navistar 
John O’Leary, President and Chief Executive Officer, Daimler Truck North America 
Jonathan Randall, President, Mack Trucks 
Peter Voorhoeve, President, Volvo Trucks North America 
Jason Skoog, General Manager, Peterbilt & Vice President, PACCAR  

For an overview of this year’s ACT Expo, click here.

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