Electric vehicles are not easy to find at American car dealers, a survey by the environmental group Sierra Club has confirmed. Two-thirds of car dealerships surveyed across the US do not have a single battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid for sale.
That’s inconsistent with the Biden administration’s climate goals, which rely on consumers switching from gas-guzzling cars to electric cars to cut tailpipe emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed aggressive new emissions standards last month that should increase sales of electric vehicles to more than two-thirds of all car sales by 2032.
The survey revealed challenges that may be preventing many US customers from making the switch to electricity
The survey revealed the challenges that could prevent many US customers from making the switch to electricity the next time they find themselves at a dealership – from supply chain problems to limited choice when it comes to the types of cars on the market.
Sierra Club staff and volunteers called or visited 801 randomly selected dealerships across the US in 2022 to complete the survey. Excludes companies like Tesla that sell vehicles directly to customers without their own network of independent dealers. The Sierra Club asked dealers if they had any EVs or hybrids for sale. And if not, do they want to sell it, without any inventory issues?
In fact, only 34 percent of dealerships have at least one EV for sale. The other two-thirds of dealerships do not. “We have a lot of plans to sell EVs, but we’re not getting anything,” responded a Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac dealership in Maryland.
Inventory issues are the biggest hurdle nationwide, the survey found. Surprisingly, only 27 percent of US West Coast dealerships have EVs available – fewer than any other region. But since more electric vehicles are sold on the West Coast than anywhere else, the lack of EVs for sale in California, Washington state, and Oregon likely points to high sales turnover.
A Nissan dealer in Washington noted that it has only sold around 1,700 of the automaker’s electric Leaf 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 they sell out quickly,” the dealer said. Nissan is reportedly planning to end production of the Leaf, one of the first mid-priced options available that introduced early adopters of EVs, while also launching a new line of next-generation EV.
While overall EV inventory is low, the survey found some luxury vehicles in greater supply than cheaper alternatives. Mercedes-Benz dealerships have the most electric vehicles, with EVs available at 90 percent of the locations surveyed. Toyota and Honda are at the other end of the spectrum, selling EVs at 15 and 11 percent of dealerships, respectively. (Both automakers have been slow to launch their next-generation EVs.)
“The final conclusion is that automakers need to invest more in EV production to match consumer demand,” the report said. That’s easier said than done, of course, with the global semiconductor shortage and the covid pandemic completely disrupting supply chains over the past few years. President Joe Biden signed into law an updated electric vehicle tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, but it is full of stipulations about where the car and all its parts are made.
Of the 66 percent of dealerships nationwide that do not have any EVs for sale, a whopping 45 percent of them report that they “will not offer an EV for sale regardless of automaker allocation and supply constraints.” chains.”
Some of the reasons why return to logistical headaches. “We have to install chargers first before the automaker sends us the EVs to sell,” a Chevrolet dealer in Wyoming said in the survey. But Wyoming also happens to be one of the states where Republican lawmakers are trying to ban EV sales.
If that sentiment gains steam, it will be bad news for the climate. Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions, the largest chunk of its carbon footprint.