GM came up with an elegant solution to the problem of dealers whose hearts aren’t in the EV transition. When the automaker confirmed plans to make Cadillac an all-electric brand, it offered its dealers a choice: invest in the necessary upgrades to sell EVs, or take a cash buyout. That process has now ended, and GM says about a third of Cadillac dealers (575) took the buyout.
Recently, Buick, which is also going electric, announced that its 2,000 US dealers will be offered a similar deal.
Chevrolet dealers, however, will not have that option, Chevrolet Global VP Scott Bell told The Verge. He sees this policy as good news for his brand, as dealers who do elect to take buyouts from Cadillac and Buick could end up exclusively selling Chevrolets.
“The minute they pull back and say, ‘You know what, I’m not ready to go all in for those brands,’ they’re now 100 percent a Chevy dealer, which is a good thing for Chevrolet,” Bell said at a recent event for the unveiling of the 2024 Chevy Equinox EV.
Bell didn’t address the question of what these EV-hesitant dealers are going to do when Chevrolet eventually goes electric too. However, he did note that the dealers that represent 95 percent of Chevy’s sales are already selling at least one EV, the Chevy Bolt. He says those dealers have demonstrated a willingness to do what’s necessary to sell Chevy EVs. “They’ve already raised their hand: ‘I’m in on the Bolt,’” he said. “They certainly have committed to the Chevy brand.”
The Verge notes (with some understatement) that auto dealers in generally are probably “less than thrilled about having to upend their business to accommodate an entirely new class of vehicles.” Actually selling EVs (as opposed to having a couple in the back of the lot somewhere) will require substantial investments—a Cadillac spokesman estimated an amount of around $200,000 for sales training, charging stations and other equipment.
Bell sees Chevy’s 3,000-plus dealers as an important part of GM’s transition to EVs, and at least some are ready to rise to the challenge. “We want to beat Tesla on EVs,” Keith McCluskey, Dealer Chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council, told Automotive News in March. “We want to meet demand.”
Source: The Verge