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Promoting EV adoption through community outreach and education

We’ll up be upfront: The process of getting people to think about buying electric cars isn’t really all that different from selling a gas-powered vehicle. Sure, many of the tech specs have changed and customers have both their delights and concerns, but electric vehicles can be introduced in your area in much the same way gasoline-powered cars were decades ago: community outreach and education. We’ll talk about a few methods of getting your community to gain an interest in electric cars.

Ride and Drive

Many events and parts of the sales process are designed to overcome a customer’s objection. One example is the inability to test drive an electric vehicle readily outside of a dealership, for more than a few minutes. 

Near St. Louis, Missouri, Jim Butler Auto Group offers a month-long trial use of its EVs for customers to address concerns through hands-on experience.

Brad Sowers, president and CEO of Jim Butler Auto Group, has seen the program grow in popularity. “One of the items we’ve seen in the EV world, specifically here in the Midwest is that people are curious if an electric vehicle will fit into their lifestyle,” he said. “We think [the program] is a great opportunity to taste an electric vehicle, see if it fits in their lifestyle, and then move forward from there.”

Host an Event

Organizing an event, or becoming part of another event that involves customers trying out electric vehicles for a little while can help customers feel more at ease without being in the dealership. 

Local events with a focus on energy or the environment are ideal for the purpose. While there are far too many positive examples to give, any event focused on the outdoors can be a great place to simply park a few electric cars and take customers on test drive – or at least touch, feel, and experience a new model that they’ll want to talk to friends, families, and neighbors about.

A couple of thoughts here: Many large cities have a farmer’s market, gardening events, or even sports events that gain a small crowd. We don’t suggest avoiding large events, but people might want a few minutes with the car at least, and big events don’t always support that well.

Car shows are commonplace for electric cars now. Even living in the upper midwest, where range anxiety can be abundant, there are several events happening near me just this month. That’s a good start!


Students are future drivers. Partnering with schools for community education efforts, like local community education classes, can further the cause of the electric vehicle. These are often attended by people who are looking to learn the basics about new technology, and in many cases, can be held and advertised for free.

The long game

Much like a larger, manufacturer-driven car show, an electric vehicle event is meant to spread awareness and not necessarily make sales this month, or even this year.

It’s also very important to send knowledgeable salespeople, or delivery coordinators who understand the technology well because one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when selling electric cars is the gap in knowledge between semi-worried customers and employees who don’t have all the answers yet.


Helping your local community learn about electric vehicles might take some collective effort. Since buyers don’t always want to come to your show floor, you should go to them at various events related to the environment or outdoors. Showing up at these events gives you the opportunity to meet people on their level.

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Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

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