Consumer experiences at car dealerships may prevent the widespread adoption of electric vehicles because industry and policy conditions deter sales personnel from promoting electric vehicles, suggests a paper published online this week in Nature Energy.
Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens and colleagues visited 82 car dealerships in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden posing as potential shoppers. They found that sales personnel were dismissive of electric vehicles, misinformed them as to vehicle specifications and encouraged the purchase of petrol and diesel vehicles instead. In some cases, electric vehicles were omitted from sales pitches entirely. When interviewed, industry experts corroborated these findings, noting that electric vehicles are both harder to sell and expected to produce lower profits. Alongside this, sales personnel do not receive adequate training on electric vehicles that would support effective sales strategies.
Electric vehicles can help reduce transport emissions. This study, however, shows that consumers who are not already knowledgeable about or interested in electric vehicles, and who may be encountering them for the first time at a car dealership, may not have experiences that encourage them to purchase one. This suggests that industry and policy incentives are needed to create the market conditions that would encourage sales personnel to promote electric vehicles rather than dismiss them.