by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Those who want to push Americans out of gas-powered vehicles are discovering that lots of folks simply aren’t interested, even with tax credits as an incentive. Governing reports the issue with lackluster EV sales is that car dealers aren’t promoting EVs.
Simply put, auto dealerships aren’t promoting them because the dealers rely on service revenue and parts sales to generate most of their profits. Since EVs are more reliable and require less routine maintenance, they’re not seen by dealers as a continuing source of substantial revenue. That’s likely to be one of the reasons dealerships aren’t willing to invest in training their salespeople on the unique features of EVs, making it difficult for them to make effective sales pitches.
Makes sense. If I were a car dealer, I’d do the same thing. You put your resources behind the product that will return the biggest profit. The State of Connecticut sees this as a problem and is inserting itself.
Since 2015, the state’s dealerships have been eligible for cash rebates of $300 for each EV they sell under the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automotive Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program. (Consumers can also apply for a state rebate of up to $5,000 through the dealership.)
The state’s dealer incentives go beyond the monetary to include a chance at bragging rights. Since 2014, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in partnership with the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), has presented an annual “Revolutionary Dealer Award” to the dealership that sells or leases the most electric cars, hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.
The marketplace is speaking. If buyers want the electric option, they’ll choose it. If not, they won’t. Here’s hoping no other states follow Connecticut’s misguided plan to use scarce resources on this.