A: What brings them to dealerships is dealership knowledge — especially when it comes to complex repairs. If the customer believes this is going to be something that’s a little more complex, they’re going to go back to the dealership. Now, you add to that EVs, which there’s a lot of technology on it, it’s new — and so shoppers, I believe, are thinking, “I need to get this back to somebody who really understands it, who’s been trained and who knows this system.” There’s a safety factor as well, and we got comments about that — “I want to make sure my car’s safe.” So I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for dealerships because they can start to [get customers] back, those folks that have drained away over the last couple of years.
Are dealerships doing a good job spreading that message to potential EV customers?
I believe they could do more. They should leverage the fact shoppers have the notion dealers can fix advanced vehicles, advanced technology, such as EVs, such as connected cars. I do believe they can do more, but I also think we’re in very early days and I think dealers are getting grounded on “What does this mean to me? What are the risks I have? What are the opportunities I have?” I think more needs to be done, and that’s one reason why we’re doing this research — to bring this information forward and talk to [dealerships] about it.
What should dealership service departments be doing now to prepare for EVs?
They need to think about their work force. Who do they train first to become the EV certified tech? Do they separate their shop operations and have an EV area? My work force, my training — how I schedule and how I even market the advantages of coming in and having service done at the store. I think this planning really has to happen now, particularly for the brands that are bringing a lot of electric vehicles online. I don’t know how anybody could wait. If they wait, they’re going to be surprised.