Connecticut State Senator Will Haskell shared some interesting dealership facts on Twitter this week. Senator Haskell is pro-EV, anti-carbon emissions, and is pretty neutral on how the cars are sold. However, he stated that when 84% of the EVs in his state are bought directly from the manufacturer, it’s clear that customers have a preference.

Also, as you can see above, Haskell replied to Robert Alvine, President of the Premier Auto Group in Connecticut, who had tweeted at him that dealerships are “selling EVs already…..and many of them.”

Senator Haskell had a solid response for Alvine on the numbers:

“CT dealerships sold 324 EVs last year. That means the average dealership sold 1.3 electric cars…” in 2020.

Alvine invited the senator to his stores and to come to see how environmentally focused they are.

“Meet some of our 175 Connecticut based employees and see their commitment to our customers, the environment, and the communities we serve.”

Alvine also said his group donated more than $1,000,000 to local communities. This is a good thing, but all it does is deflect from the critical topic at hand. I believe that corporations and businesses owe it to the communities they are serving to give back from time to time, so flexing that as a reason why the bill is wrong is not the right move, in my opinion.

Is he going to stop donating money to the communities if the bill is to pass?

Bradley Hoffman of the Hoffman Auto Group, which is currently suing Tesla and a town, replied to the senator and claimed that this was misleading.

“Virtually every brand will be selling electric by year-end and some will be going 100% in product lineup. Dealers have already spent millions on charging stations and solar panels because we all care about the environment.”

I am curious to know just where he got that information from. Dealerships in Connecticut are spending millions on EV charging stations and solar panels? I politely asked him to share the data backing up his claim. We will see if he does. If his claims are 100% true, then this is an excellent thing for EV adoption — which is the key goal.

However, he could be referring to new rules by legacy automakers such as Cadillac, which is making charger investment mandatory for dealers as its brand is moving toward mostly electric by the end of the decade. Rory Havey, vice president of Cadillac sales, service, and marketing, gave an interview with Automotive News that covered this:

“Dealers who don’t think an investment of that size makes sense for their business could remain with Cadillac beyond November 1, but their future would be subject to discussions with brand officials.”

In December 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that around 150 U.S. Cadillac dealers were planning to exit the brand instead of investing ~$200,000 in upgrades.

General Motors gave Cadillac dealers a choice: accept a buyout offer to exit from the brand or spend around $200,000 on dealership upgrades — including charging stations and repair tools — to ready their stores for selling electric vehicles.

Most dealers jumped onboard, but many dealers didn’t want to spend the money and opted out. Ironically, dealerships have no problem spending money lobbying policymakers to suppress Tesla and other automakers’ rights to directly sell to their customers. Perhaps buying politicians is cheaper than spending money to upgrade your dealership to support EVs?

The article noted that the buyout would shrinking Cadillac’s dealership network, which was almost triple the size of luxury competitors such as Lexus and Audi. This doesn’t look like dealerships spending millions on EV charging and solar to me.

Dealerships Don’t Really Want To Sell EVs

The EV Club of Connecticut shared a summary of a dataset of CHEAPR rebates by individual dealerships. This shows statistics from the start of the program through the end of last year. One key observation is that there is a small number of dealers that do great work, but sadly, the great work is defined as 100 or more rebates over the entire duration of that period of time. There are 6 companies that achieved that level. Hoffman isn’t on that list of six — close, but not there. Those six dealerships are:

  • A-1 Toyota — 167
  • Richard Chevrolet — 126
  • Honda of Westport — 126
  • Karl Chevrolet — 122
  • Lynch Toyota — 117
  • Ingersoll Auto of Danbury — 101

The data show how many rebates dealerships received over the previously stated period of time. Considering that Hoffman stated that dealerships have been spending millions on charging stations, I would assume that this particular dealership would be in that top 6, but it’s not. Below is a rundown of the Hoffman Group’s EV rebates from the data:

  • Hoffman Audi — 5
  • BMW of Watertown — 2
  • Hoffman Ford — 38
  • Hoffman Honda — 23
  • Hoffman Nissan — 15
  • Hoffman Toyota — 83

If dealerships really wanted to sell EVs, they could. They have the budgets for advertising, the budget to lobby lawmakers, and plenty of positive examples. They can easily afford to upgrade their dealerships with EV charging and have their staff better understand the technology and how to sell it. How motivated are they, though?

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