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How auto dealers can stay ahead on the long road to an all-EV future — Dave Thomas | CDK Global

All eyes are on the electric vehicle (EV) shift that’s happening right now and impacting car dealers across the nation. CDK Global has recently released findings from a survey that found significant challenges and opportunities that the auto industry must address to get to a future where all cars are electric. We’re joined by Dave Thomas, the Automotive Industry Analyst at CDK Global, to discuss the findings of CDK Global’s The Charged Truth About Electric Vehicles.

Many look forward to the EV future, a massive topic in the industry. CDK Global reached out to over a thousand auto consumers and EV-exclusive buyers while figuring out where the dealer fits in the situation.

Thomas was surprised at the results––while the EV car driver adores their experience and vehicle, 46% of shoppers are not even considering going electric when shopping for a new vehicle, inciting some uncertainty among auto dealers. 

“You might be a little hesitant to go all in,” Thomas says, “so you lease, but only 8% of EV buyers actually leased.” The tech is why people love EVs, not necessarily eco-friendliness, to some disappointment. 

CDK Global

When asked what dealers should do in this situation to keep customers happy and stay three steps ahead, Thomas said the dealer mentality will always be necessary. Try not to think of a 5-year plan as a 5-year plan but rather as a 15-year plan. The all-EV shift may not be 100% complete until 2040. This is because there’s still some technology (such as an EV mini-van) that isn’t available at the moment. Thinking long-term would be a saving grace.

Thomas also recommends that dealers “know their area” and have a map of what to do and questions to answer regarding EVs. 

The concern for the all-EV future is slightly over 30%, and excitement is 50%. The US sells so many ICE cars a year that it would take some time for the eclectic vehicles to reign supreme.

For insight, we can’t look at EV markets in Europe or China because it’s an entirely different economic situation than the US Americans simply have a closer relationship with their cars. 

Over 300 million ICE vehicles are still on the road, setting the stage for multiple years of selling, reselling, leasing, and more. Any change at all will not be immediate. ICE owners may be servicing their cars well into the 2050s. 

Professionals show some concern––with EVs being so technologically-advanced, repair shops may be wielding laptops rather than toolboxes. It’s already tough to hire techs in the auto industry, which brings a new set of problems.

But there’s always a positive side: Four out of five EV car owners want their dealer to service the vehicle. Dealers can gain consumer trust by researching EVs and keeping up with trends and challenges. 

CDK Global

Anchor Jim Fitzpatrick explained how a dealer likened this change to the wave of computers decades ago––just like today, where drivers are concerned about EV distance and mileage, consumers are worried about dial-up. We’ve gone from dial-up to having smartphones and internet in the palms of our hands in about a decade.

As Thomas explains, transformation is always possible, but it’s also important to consider how a computer is different from a vehicle. “We’re used to replacing a computer every four years, and it’s triple that for a car,” saying something that sits on our desk is a little different than an EV. 

But dealers are resilient, and most have a great outlook, which is often lost in the conversation. Average Americans may not even know their own cars inside and out, but they do know their lifestyle and how it will change. 


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CBT Automotive Network is a multimedia broadcast platform serving automotive professionals. With interviews featuring the biggest names in the industry, daily newscasts following top stories, up-to-date market data, and exclusive articles covering the latest industry trends, CBT is the leading voice of the retail automotive industry.

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