What Will the Shift to Electric Vehicles Mean for US Auto Dealers?


Up until 2021, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the United States barely hit the 450,000 mark. However, the latest report from the Kelley Blue Book shows that last year’s figures went over 800,000 and EV sales could hit one million – possibly more – by the end of this year.

However, while both automotive manufacturers and car buyers are jumping into the EV fray enthusiastically, many car dealers – particularly those dealing in vehicles from Ford and General Motors – are wondering how their role in the industry will change.

Towards the end of 2022, around 65% – just under 2,000 individual dealerships – of Ford dealers opted into the automaker’s EV certification program as part of the shift towards creating an efficient and streamlined buying process for consumers. But this is not without cost: dealerships opting into Ford’s EV program need to invest between $500,000 to $1.2 million in order to put in the necessary infrastructure.

At the same time, while consumers as well as automakers want a streamlined process – better still if done online – the somewhat complicated nature of buying a vehicle means a totally online experience may not work for the majority of potential buyers. Indeed, a sizable number will still wish to do an on-site inspection of the vehicle they have in mind and take it for a test drive before finalizing a purchase.

To be fair, while the best dealers are now working their way towards knowing what direction the EV sector is going and subsequently making adjustments to the way they do business, the final move depends on consumers themselves. Experts believe that potential car buyers need to tell both manufacturers and dealers alike what they want to happen if EVs are to truly become the mainstream in the foreseeable future.