As workers in the high-tech neighborhood in Santa Monica, CA, known as Silicon Beach emerge from their office buildings for lunch, they migrate to a table on a side street. There, they line up to register for a test drives of a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in hybrid-electric minivan and a Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicle.
They also receive a voucher for a free lunch at one of the food trucks parked on the same street.
Julie Wiskirchen, who works in a nearby office, came by because her co-worker told her about the free food. But she is impressed with the Pacifica PHEV minivan.
“I know people who need a bigger vehicle and would like to try an electric,” she tells WardsAuto. “I will tell them about the Pacifica. It fills a niche.”
Hosting these kinds of events is one way manufacturers aim to help their dealers sell more electric vehicles of both the plug-in hybrid-electric and battery-electric variety. Adding more PHEV and BEV models to their lineups is the only way most automakers will be able to meet stiffening fuel economy requirements in the U.S.
The challenge for dealers is finding customers for those vehicles.