Despite soaring consumer interest for Electric Vehicles (EVs), over half of retailers (51.6%) recently surveyed by Auto Trader reveal they feel unprepared and not strategically ready to respond to this surging demand. Unsurprisingly, franchise retailers are far more confident with only a fifth (20%) saying they feel unprepared compared to nearly 60% (59.9%) of independent retailers.
EV supply and demand
The data features in Auto Trader’s recently released Road to 2030 report, that shows half of retailers (50.4%) surveyed have never sold an EV. Franchise retailers are significantly further down the electric road with only 14.3% of franchise retailers having never sold an EV compared to nearly 60% (59.6%) of independent retailers. As reported by the SMMT, sales of new EVs in the first half of 2022 grew 56% on the previous year, and now account for around one in seven of all new car sales in the UK, highlighting a mismatch between retailer readiness and consumer interest.
Of those that had already sold an EV, just over a third (37.8%) have had electric chargers fitted at their dealership. And there seems no rush to focus on EVs in the near future, as 45.2% of respondents believe 2030 will be the tipping point when all retailers need to have an EV strategy. For independent retailers, this picture is similar with 48.6% believing 2030 is the tipping point, compared to less than a third (30%) of franchise retailers. Similarly, less than 5% (4.7%) of those retailers that hadn’t yet sold an EV plan to start selling them in the next 12 months, whilst nearly a quarter (22.5%) never intend to sell EVs. Perhaps surprisingly, this view is equally held between retailer types with about one-fifth of both franchise (20%) and independent (23.2%) retailers never intending to sell EVs.
These findings come as consumer buying intentions grow stronger. The latest Road to 2030 Report shows a significant uplift in the volume of EV leads sent to retailers from Auto Trader, with one in four new car leads now for an electric vehicle. Interest has also increased for used EVs, as advert views and searches have increased 51% April-June on the same period in the prior year.
Although the used EV market is fairly immature, by 2030 there will be nine million EVs on UK roads, at which point half of all 3–5-year
–old cars will be an EV. Reticence to sell EVs appears to come from those who don’t feel they have the appropriate training or information they need to confidently sell EVs. One in three retailers (32.7%) surveyed said that they need considerable training on how to sell EVs, whilst 70% rate themselves average or below at selling EVs.
Marc Palmer, Brand Director at Auto Trader, said: “There’s a massive opportunity here for retailers to start to think about they will sell EVs and how they will arm themselves with the right information and, crucially, the right training.
“It’s likely that the earliest interactions many retailers will have with EVs is at used car auctions. Auction lists will soon start to fill up with used EVs and retailers won’t be able to rely on instinct and experience as they have in the past with used ICE vehicles.
“They’ll need to take a data-led approach to buying used EVs, including what to bid for and how much to bid, to ensure their stock offering evolves with consumer and environmental demands. EVs aren’t to be feared, and they certainly shouldn’t be ignored as very soon they will become a meaningful part of a retailer’s’ forecourt.”
Auto Trader’s soon to launch a new Retailer Performance Masterclass, available here, dedicated to selling electric vehicles which is designed to help reduce knowledge gaps and improve retailer EV confidence and capability.