As the world continues to push forward with its transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs), automotive dealerships have a great opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of this changing landscape.
Currently, there is a gap between interest in EVs versus knowledge of EVs. A 2020 Consumer Reports survey found that while over 70% of drivers expressed an interest in electric cars, only 30% reported actually knowing much about them. This means vehicle dealerships are going to need to play the role of educator and that the dealership will need to lead by example.
Auto dealerships will need to take the lead and present themselves as being all-in on EVs. That’s not to say that a dealership must only sell EVs, but there should be a strong EV presence, considering the many exciting new EVs coming out this year.
The easiest way to present a strong EV presence is, firstly, to make sure all employees are knowledgeable about EVs and secondly, to install EV charging infrastructure at the dealership. When your prospective EV drivers enter your dealership, they want to feel like they’ve entered a place where EVs are the norm and they they can have all their questions answered accurately. These are the steps you can take to prepare your dealership for EV customers:
1. Educate dealership staff about electric vehicles
Before your team can fill the EV knowledge gap, they’ll need to be educated themselves. They should know the basics of EV terminology, EV charging levels, how to charge an electric car, how far a vehicle can travel before charging, what effect cold weather has on a battery, what the resale value may be and everything else a customer may want to know.
In addition, your staff should all have at least some experience driving and charging an EV so they can answer questions about handling and performance and give a demonstration of how to charge the vehicles. For drivers who have never test driven an electric car, regenerative braking can be a surprising feature. Just as your staff is familiar with the ins and outs of driving a gas vehicle, they should also be familiar with the ins and outs of driving an electric vehicle.
Your vehicle manufacturer will likely have brand-specific educational materials for your staff, but you can also use the EV training program offered by the National Auto Dealers Association, which is designed to complement any manufacturer-specific training.
2. Install EV chargers at three key locations
Having EV chargers in your dealership will help you in multiple ways.
While you’ll need chargers to charge the vehicles you sell, service and use as part of the dealership, having publicly available chargers that everyone can use will demonstrate your dealership’s commitment to EVs and convey trust to potential customers. They can also become an extra revenue source for the dealership if you decide to charge for their use.
We recommend you have EV charging stations in these locations at your dealership:
Public parking lot
By installing public Level 2 or DCFC Blink Charging stations, your public charging stations will be added to the Blink Network and show up in the Blink Charging App. With the Level 2 Blink Vision, you can also display advertisements for your vehicles and services. Other Level 2 options such as the IQ 200 or the Series 8 Level 2 stations will provide a boost to customers who need to charge while test driving a vehicle or meeting with a sales representative.
If you prefer Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC), Blink’s 60kW – 360kW DCFC stations can be wrapped with your dealership’s branding.
Regardless of which type of charging stations you choose, your dealership’s new amenity will support your new and returning customers, as well as help the US make up its shortfall of EV charging infrastructure.
But EV charging stations are not just a useful amenity. Your sales team can also use your commercial Blink chargers to educate customers on how to find and use public EV charging stations!
With charging stations on your showroom floor, your salespeople can demonstrate their usage and show potential customers additional ways to charge their vehicles. As a new technology, many drivers considering a new vehicle are not yet aware of how to charge an electric car, or even if this new vehicle can support their lifestyles. Your dealership is the ideal situation to explain how Level 2 chargers are faster and more convenient than the Level 1 chargers that come with the vehicle.
Dealerships that become an authorized Blink reseller can use this opportunity to potentially upsell customers a residential Level 2 charging station. After all, 80% of all charging takes place at the home while the vehicle is parked overnight.
Allowing your customers to handle the charging equipment will help customers feel more confident buying an electric car from your experienced sales team.
You’ll also be able to charge your show vehicles easily with a charging station right in the showroom.
Back lot/production lot
While the public chargers are for everyone and the showroom chargers are just as much for demonstrations as they are for actual charging, having private charging stations in your back lot will ensure your dealership is able to run smoothly. You’ll be able to charge customer vehicles visiting your service center, vehicles used for test drives, vehicles awaiting their new owner, and even your dealership’s own fleet.
Having dedicated private chargers means you won’t have to tie up any of the public chargers for the dealership’s own usage.
3. Develop an EV-specific sales strategy
The difference between ICE vehicles and EVs goes beyond their drivetrains.
While it’s always important to get to know your customer and their motivations for buying a new vehicle, it’s especially important for potential EV buyers. After all, you’re talking about a higher-price point vehicle when compared to similar ICE vehicles.
For example, if a customer is buying a new vehicle because their old one required too much maintenance, you can let them know that EVs require little ongoing maintenance. While electric cars still need items like tires and windshield wipers, eliminating the annual oil change and costly transmission services helps drivers save thousands.
If they are a homeowner, you can tell them that they can save time by charging at home (especially if they can conveniently buy a Blink charger from your dealership). They can even install their own home charging station so they can charge overnight during off-peak energy rates and thus save money on public charging.
And if they are an apartment dweller or renter and cannot charge at their workplace, you can use the Blink App to show them the public charging stations and map out a preliminary daily charging plan with them.
Have your salespeople come up with their own EV-specific sales strategies that address questions and concerns people have about the vehicles.
4. Demonstrate the software
While you are introducing customers to EV charging stations, it’s also a great opportunity to introduce them to the Blink App and the Blink Network. With the Blink App, your drivers can easily find a charger, start charging, and view personalized reports. While there is a learning curve for finding a charging station, a software demonstration from your experienced sales team will help your drivers feel more confident with their vehicle purchase.
Dealerships are in a unique position to lead the way toward a greener future by educating drivers about electric vehicles, teaching them how to use charging stations, and supporting the country’s need for public charging stations. Getting prepared with EV charging at your dealership now will allow you to meet the growing demand for EVs and instill trust in your customers when it’s time for them to buy their next vehicle. Click here to learn how Blink Charging supports auto dealerships.