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Rethinking dealership design for electric vehicles

The rise of electric vehicles offers an unprecedented opportunity for OEMs and dealers to redefine dealership design.

The automobile industry is attempting a seismic shift. OEMs, at the direction of the government, are not only wanting to change the way we drive but also how we purchase and maintain our vehicles.

For dealerships, with the help of OEMs, this means more than just updating inventory—it’s about reimagining the entire showroom experience. Let’s dive into how dealerships can redesign their spaces to cater to the new era of electric vehicles (EVs) and meet consumer expectations.

Charging Infrastructure: More Than Just a Power Point

The most apparent change for an EV-ready dealership is the installation of charging stations. If you’re not supporting EVs, why should your customer? But consider this: rather than a simple plug-and-charge station, what if the charging space was a lounge? We’re not suggesting an Audi-sized charging lounge. However, dealerships can adopt some of their ideas.

Picture an expanded, comfortable seating area with Wi-Fi, coffee, and workstations. Lincoln is adopting some of these ideas at their Experience Centers that could be put into their dealerships. Customers can relax or catch up on work while waiting for their vehicles to charge. It’s about selling a branded experience, not just electricity.

Interactive Displays: Bringing Tech to the Forefront

Buying an EV is as much about the technology as the vehicle. Dealerships, with the help of OEMs, can leverage this by setting up interactive displays. These kiosks can educate customers about battery technology, range, charging infrastructure, and the environmental benefits of EVs. A well-informed customer is more likely to make a confident purchase.

Test Drive Routes: Showcase EV Strengths

One of EVs’ most significant selling points is their smooth acceleration and near-silent operation. When setting up test drive routes, ensure they allow potential buyers to experience these qualities.

Include a mix of city and highway driving and, when possible, a hill or two to demonstrate regenerative braking. Every test drive should make the EV’s benefits palpably clear.

Service Areas: Transparent and Educational

Of course, EVs come with a different set of maintenance needs compared to ICE. However, regardless of the type of vehicle sold, establishing transparent service areas where customers can see technicians at work would be an excellent idea.

Offer tours or workshops where buyers can learn about essential EV maintenance and care. By demystifying the process, dealerships can alleviate some consumers’ apprehensions about EV upkeep.

Green Building Design: Walking the Talk

Consider the power of a statement when your dealership not only sells EVs but is also a beacon of sustainability. Incorporate green building designs like solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and energy-efficient lighting. It reinforces the message that your dealership is fully invested in the future of sustainable mobility.

Flexible Dealership Design: Anticipating the Future

Under the government timeline, EV purchasing and usage should be rapidly evolving. Today’s charging stations might be obsolete in a few years, replaced by faster and more efficient models.

So, designing dealership spaces to be flexible and adaptable to future technological advancements is essential. Modular designs, which can be easily updated or reconfigured, will ensure your dealership remains ahead of the curve.

Holistic Customer Experience: Beyond Just Cars

Finally, reshape the dealership into a holistic space that’s a destination. Introduce a café that offers organic goods or a small bookstore that stocks titles on technology, sustainability, and the future of transport. Create a community hub for discussions, workshops, and events centered around EVs and green technology.

It Could be Time for a Makeover

The rise of electric vehicles offers an unprecedented opportunity for OEMs and dealers to redefine dealership design. By creating an environment that’s not just about selling cars but promoting a sustainable and tech-forward lifestyle, dealerships can attract and engage a new generation of eco-conscious, tech-savvy buyers.

As the adage goes: adapt or get left behind. In the EV era, adaptation means embracing the electric revolution, both in the cars you sell and the experience you offer.

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Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He earned bachelor's degrees in Marketing and Television from the University of Texas in Austin and a Masters of Theology study from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas. His passion for automobiles lead him to become a creative director for automotive marketing ad agency. Most recently, he was the manager of interactive marketing for Mitsubishi Motors, NA.

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