The simplest way to sell electric cars in America is to abandon the dealer model. Make direct sales to customers legal and empower consumers by not getting them to haggle with retailers.
In an article in Atlantic Ocean, the author discussed the issue of negotiators and their allies in the political system of the United States. In a nutshell, the simplest way to sell electric cars is to do away with the dealer model, especially if that model hinders America. And it is.
I’ve written a lot about how dealers are not so favorable here in the United States. They claim to be about consumer protection, but in reality, there are too many horror stories about how retailers have cheated customers.
Does this mean that every single employee working in a retailer is a bad person? None! It certainly does not. In fact, I typically assume that most people are kind-hearted. By mentioning dealers, I generally refer to those companies that decide to suppress the sale of electric cars and / or cheat consumers.
The author of the play in Atlantic Ocean shared his experience in the Rivian R1T. His experience is a special one at this point, as test driving in the R1T is illegal in over half of the United States. He wrote:
“You can not understand the Rivian R1T until you have tested it, in other words. But it is a rare and in a sense illegal experience because to test drive R1T is illegal in more than half of the United States. For perhaps as many as 200 million Americans, local antitrust laws were intended to protect car dealers from unfair competition that prohibits car manufacturers like Rivian from selling directly to customers. “
The question I have is this: How is America going to catch up with China in EV sales if our own laws make it extremely difficult for the average American to buy an EV? The author noted that now is a time when it is important to sell more electric cars to help avoid the worst disasters of climate change, but dealership protection laws make it difficult for Americans to do so. And in return, it turns out to be a major challenge for the decarbonization of the U.S. economy.
The author writes:
“When you want to buy pants, you have a choice. You can go to Macy’s, where they sell many different pants brands, or you can go to, say, J. Crew, where they only sell the pants that J.Crew makes. Virtually all consumer products are sold through one or both of these methods.
“If you want to buy a chair, you can go to Wayfair, but if you want to buy an IKEA chair, go to IKEA. It’s all so normal, so accepted, that it’s strange to describe. But oddly enough, this is not how it works for cars. Most Americans cannot buy a car directly from the car manufacturer. “
I have made similar comparisons with the iPhone. And both comparisons are completely accurate. In addition, the author emphasizes that dealership protection laws not only hinder the progress of selling electric cars in America, but also form markets for electric cars. He did not know this until he compared New York and Florida.
Both states have about the same population, but Florida does not have a nationwide EV incentive program other than allowing EV owners to use the HOV lane. Despite that, Floridians have bought over 60% more electric cars than New Yorkers have. He noted that this difference is exacerbated by the fact that people in Florida drive more than in New York. The clearest explanation, however, is Tesla. He noted that Tesla sells more electric cars than any other automaker, and it has opened 17 stores and galleries in Florida, but only 5 in New York. Tesla, he wrote, is forbidden to open more. It makes a difference, which is why some parties are fighting so hard to block Tesla, Rivian, Lucid and others from opening stores.
Consumer protection is a myth
The article is an excellent and necessary read and I suggest you read it. You can do this here. The author repeats what I have said in the last year or so. I will quickly revisit an article I wrote last year. The focus was more or less on car dealers in New York, who at the time were fighting a coalition of 114 environmental groups to keep Tesla, Rivian and Lucid out of state. However, the article was a long read, and the part I return to is this: consumer protection is nothing but a myth.
A quick google search will show that retailers are protecting their customers around as well as hurricanes are protecting residents from floods and power outages. One type of common dealer fraud is known as affirmative action. This is where the dealers at a dealer can tinker with the odometer or use bait-and-switch commercials while promising that the vehicle has features that it does not actually have.
HG.org also noted that most types of dealer fraud involve the withholding of information that affects the value of a vehicle. Such information includes whether the vehicle was involved in a collision or has an expired warranty. How does this protect the consumer?
It should be easy to sell electric cars in America
In the nation where the world leader in electric cars is headquartered (no, it’s not GM), it should be easy to sell electric cars. However, this is not the case and it is due to the relationship between negotiators and politicians. As the author pointed out, it is difficult to test drive and buy electric cars in many states, and companies like Rivian cannot sell electric cars directly to consumers.
There is a loophole and that is buying online and either getting your EV out of state or paying a third party to bring it to you. However, this does not encourage the majority of Americans to switch to electric vehicles, and this will not decarbonize the U.S. economy. If America were to legalize the sale of electric cars directly to customers and let go of the outdated dealer system that hinders progress, we might be able to catch up with China and Europe.
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