The role franchised dealers play in the shift to electric vehicles was a main theme discussed at the Renewable Energy Association’s EV Experience conference held in London.

Stephen Latham, head of operations at the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), analysed current consumer attitudes towards electric cars and the challenges they face. He explained the main differentiators that are likely to have a positive effect on the uptake of electric cars. These include a wider range of electric vehicles, reducing costs, improved charging infrastructure and better clarity on Government’s taxation and policies.

Talking about the initiatives that the Government has been implementing, Latham mentioned the NFDA’s new Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) scheme. EVA is an accreditation scheme for dealers that meet a set of significant standards for retail and aftersales.

Latham said: “Franchised dealers play a crucial role in the supply chain of today’s market and will be instrumental to the development of the electric vehicle sector.

“In 2017, UK motorists who purchased a new or a used car made a total of 15m visits to physical dealerships. Recent figures show that despite the in-depth research conducted online, consumers visit physical dealerships more often than they used to.

“Franchised dealers are aware that their business models will evolve to meet the fast-changing consumer demand. Dealers’ ability to support consumers during their EV buying journey will have a huge impact on the growth of the EV sector and, as a result, will allow the retail automotive industry to embrace the forthcoming changes and continue to thrive”.

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Last year Toyota topped the rankings in the NFDA’s first electric vehicle survey.

Toyota topped categories for product offerings; supply availability; manufacturer training and material; sales targets; profit return: return on investment; finance offering; and sales and incentives.

However, for satisfaction relating to the Plug-in grant, Hyundai and Nissan came first.