New Car Dealers and Retail Innovation in California's Plug-In Electric Vehicle Market

Innovative new products like plug-in electric vehicles may need new approaches to market and sell them. The authors conducted 43 interviews with automakers and dealers selling plug-in vehicles in California’s major metro markets and analyzed data on customer satisfaction with new car dealers and Tesla stores. Initial findings revealed: Plug-in vehicle buyers rated the dealer purchase experience much lower than conventional vehicle buyers while Tesla scored industry-high scores; plug-in vehicles returned higher gross profits but place greater demands on dealers; new retail approaches undertaken by ‘dealer innovators’, could improve the PEV buying experience; public incentives could better align with established dealer practices and business drivers. Evidence suggests that pre-existing retail configurations and arms-length relations in the traditional franchised dealer model could both enable and hinder retail innovations for PEVs, as well as the quality and pace of diffusion amongst dealers and customers. The paper examines the implications of these findings for policy.


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  • Accession Number: 01555277
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UCD-ITS-WP-14-04
  • Created Date: Feb 26 2015 10:05AM