Automobile

Plug In America works to get consumers, dealers pumped up about EVs

How much has Tesla helped transform that mindset from “it’s like your vegetables” to “this is a fun car to drive”?

Urquhart: Tesla definitely helped to market EVs. But we’re seeing a lot of automakers who are going to release vehicles that are going to change the conversation even further.

We know there’s the F-150 [Lightning]. I think it’s going to change the conversation because that’s a truck that can be used for a lot of different things that historically people didn’t associate with electric vehicles or plug-in vehicles. I think that Ford Mach-E Mustang, the Mustang has a huge following of people who are really into cars. And it’s a whole new audience. Tesla helped, but I think that conversation is still evolving and there’s a lot of automakers who are helping to move that forward.

Levin: One of the interesting things that’s happening is EVs are gradually moving into different vehicle classes and different types of models than there were before. A couple of years ago, a lot of the EVs were subcompacts. That’s not true anymore because there now are a number of really nice SUVs that are out there: the Audi E-tron, and the Mustang, the VW ID4 and Nissan’s about to release Ariya. As Kat said, there were no pickup trucks, but there’s about to be a bunch of them. So, we’re picking up people that weren’t interested before because there wasn’t a vehicle that fit their lifestyle.

What is the role of dealerships?

Levin: Obviously, car dealers are really critical to this. The car dealers are kind of where the rubber hits the road. It’s a different business transaction than car dealers are used to. Most people are pretty familiar with gasoline technology.

When someone sells an EV, it’s a longer discussion. You need a little bit more knowledge around the technology and how you fuel it. And EV drivers also tend to do a lot of their research.

They’ll very often come to the dealership knowing more than the salesperson they’re talking to; kind of a disconcerting experience for the salespeople. Plus, there’s a zillion different incentives that are available, which is really great, but they change constantly.

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