Manufacturers, Dealers Seek Consumer Insights Into Selling EVs

As new electric models are released, the dealer-manufacturer partnership gains importance.

Alysha Webb, Contributor

June 10, 2024

3 Min Read
Dealers need to understand the consumer and the vehicle to successfully sell EVs, experts say.Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part report on how manufacturers' relationships with dealers boost EV sales.

EV education and training for dealers is especially important to boost EV adoption because dealers are “highly influential” in the EV sales process, Stephanie Valdez Streaty, director of industry insights at Cox Automotive, tells WardsAuto.

Third-Party Help

Rhonda Jensen, general manager of Bowman Chevrolet in Clarkston, MI, says the manufacturer cannot be solely responsible for boosting EV sales: “The dealership has to buy in.”

That can include third-party help to boost EV sales. For example, the National Automobile Dealers Assn. (NADA) offers brand-agnostic EV sales training to its dealer members. An NADA spokesperson says it consulted with dealers about the course content before the launch.
Two-way communication between manufacturers and dealers is crucial when new technology comes to market, says Rebecca Lindland, senior director of industry data and insights at says third-party providers such as provide direct consumer feedback to manufacturers and dealers. Consumers can also give feedback on their dealer experience on the site.“What we are providing to all three parties is information on what the consumer is shopping for, what price points they are shopping for, and the fastest-selling new and used EVs in the marketplace,” Lindland says.
Matching Supply and Demand

As we’ve reported, in-depth information on shopping habits is becoming more important as more EV models come to market, especially because consumer interest in buying an EV may be waning. That could primarily be due to a slowdown in Tesla sales, say industry experts.
According to Urban Science, a leading global automotive consultancy and technology firm, in the first four months of 2024, sales of battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. rose 2.8% compared to the same period in 2023. In that period, Tesla sales fell 13% year-on-year while non-Tesla BEV sales rose 33%.Consumer interest in EVs also varies widely by state. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation says EVs accounted for 25.71% of all sales in California in 2023, the top state. At the bottom was North Dakota, at 1.28% of sales.
Kia notes such trends.
“We are starting to be very concentrated about where and how we are distributing EVs to our dealers,” says Eric Watson, vice president of sales operations for Kia Motors America.
Kia dealer Matthew Phillips, dealer principal at Car Pros Automotive Group, tells WardsAuto, “Product mix and balance is always a challenge, but Kia has done a better job of it than some.”
Getting Dealership Staff Into EVs
Making it easier for dealership staff to have an EV as a daily driver is one area where manufacturers could do better, dealers say.
Driving an EV gives sales staff the knowledge to explain aspects of ownership. That is often the best sales tool, dealers say.
Chevrolet doesn’t have specific programs to get dealership employees into EVs, but Bowman Chevrolet has made EV ownership “make sense” for its employees, Jensen says.
She says she, general sales manager Joe Jackson and many of the dealership managers and staff drive EVs. “That is the best training," she says.

At Car Pros, “I am a big fan of people driving what they sell, especially with the charging aspect,” says Phillips, who drives a bright yellow EV6 and an ivory EV9. 

Kia doesn’t have an employee lease special, but it does have a demo program. Under that, all Car Pros management and staff have taken an EV home for a few days, Phillips says.Car Pros’ Glendale, CA, Kia dealership is the country’s No.1 Kia dealer, he says, adding, “more than 20% of our monthly sales are electrified."

About the Author(s)

Alysha Webb


Based in Los Angeles, Alysha Webb has written about myriad aspects of the automotive industry for more than than two decades, including automotive retail, manufacturing, suppliers, and electric vehicles. She began her automotive journalism career in China and wrote reports for Wards Intelligence on China's electric vehicle future and China's autonomous vehicle future. 

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