Electric vehicles just aren’t easy to find at American car dealerships, a survey by the environmental group Sierra Club confirms this. Two-thirds of surveyed car dealers in the US did not have a single plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle for sale.
That doesn’t align with the Biden administration’s climate goals, which rely on consumers switching from gas-guzzling cars to electric vehicles to reduce tailpipe emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month proposed aggressive new emissions standards that are supposed to push electric vehicle sales to more than two-thirds of all car sales by 2032.
The survey exposes the challenges that could prevent more customers in the US from switching to electricity.
The survey exposes the challenges that could prevent more U.S. customers from switching to electric the next time they find themselves at a dealership, from supply chain issues to limited choice when it comes to car types. in the market.
Sierra Club staff and volunteers called or visited 801 randomly selected dealerships across the US in 2022 to complete the survey. It excludes companies like Tesla that sell vehicles directly to customers without their own independent dealer network. The Sierra Club asked dealers if they had electric or hybrid vehicles for sale. And if not, would they want to sell them, barring inventory issues?
It turns out that only 34 percent of dealerships had at least one electric vehicle for sale. The other two-thirds of the dealers did not. “We have big plans to sell electric vehicles, but we just can’t get any,” responded a Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac dealer in Maryland.
Inventory problems were the biggest hurdle across the country, according to the survey. Shockingly, only 27 percent of dealerships on the US West Coast had EVs available, fewer than in any other region. But with more EVs being sold on the West Coast than anywhere else, the shortage of EVs for sale in California, Washington state and Oregon likely points to high sales churn.
A Nissan dealer in Washington said it has only sold about 1,700 of the automaker’s Leaf electric hatchbacks in the past 10 years, but now they are struggling to keep them in stock. “Right now they can’t get more than one at a time and it sells out immediately,” the trader said. Nissan reportedly plans to discontinue production of the Leaf, one of the first available mid-price options that introduced early adopters of EVs, while also introducing a new lineup of next-generation EVs.
While overall EV inventory was low, the survey found that some luxury vehicles were in greater supply than more affordable alternatives. Mercedes-Benz dealerships had the most EVs available, with EVs available at 90 percent of surveyed locations. Toyota and Honda were at the other end of the spectrum, with electric vehicles for sale at just 15 and 11 percent of dealerships, respectively. (Both automakers have been slow to launch their next-generation electric vehicles.)
“The bottom line is that automakers need to invest more in electric vehicle production to meet consumer demand,” the report says. Easier said than done, of course, with a global shortage of semiconductors and the covid pandemic that has absolutely wrecked supply chains in recent years. President Joe Biden signed an updated EV tax credit into law with the Cut Inflation Act, but it’s riddled with stipulations about where the car and all its parts were made.
Of the 66 percent of dealers nationwide with no EVs for sale, an astonishing 45 percent of them reported that they “would not offer an EV for sale, regardless of the automaker’s allocation and the limitations of the supply chain”.
Some of the reasons for that go back to logistical headaches. “We need to install chargers first before the automaker can send us electric vehicles to sell,” a Chevrolet dealer in Wyoming said in the survey. But Wyoming is also one of the states where Republican lawmakers are trying to ban electric vehicle sales.
If that sentiment gains strength, that’s very bad news for the climate. Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions. bigger piece of your carbon footprint.