NJ Car Pres. Jim Appleton shares his concerns about the transition to EVs

OEMs and vendors are expanding their electric and alternative fuel technology rapidly, but how are dealers adapting to the new EV car shopping behaviors? Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome back the President of NJ Car, Jim Appleton, to tell us how dealers in his state are feeling about EVs and what they must focus on for a successful transition to electric.

There are many opportunities for car dealers with the electrification of the auto industry. However, there are also many concerns, says Appleton. Automakers have been toying with the idea of moving toward an agency model retailing experience and reworking the franchise system to facilitate direct-to-consumer sales.

“There is nothing about an electric car that makes it more of better amenable through direct sales or through an agency model,” says Appleton. “But of course, the OEMs are pushing down that track.”

The affordability of electric vehicles is also a top concern, especially given the recent interest rate hikes from the Fed. Batter electric vehicles can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $13,000 more than a comparable internal combustion engine vehicle. The federal EV incentives and particularly New Jersey incentives pose a problem as well from Appleton’s perspective. Automakers have over a century’s worth of experience with vehicle incentives; government regulators don’t. And with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, only a select group of EVs qualify for incentives. Auto dealers will also need to upgrade their facilities with the infrastructure suited for selling electric cars.

The good news is, that the franchise model has always been the most effective way to market any new automotive technology.

“To get to 100% EV adoption, it’s going to take dealers and their skillsets and their abilities to educate people and market new, innovative products to get there.”

The infrastructure for EVs still has a long way to go, says Appleton. Multi-unit dwellings will need a way to charge multiple vehicles reliably and in a reasonable timeframe.

“We shouldn’t have the government’s thumb on the scale for which vehicles are which vehicle aren’t subject to incentives,” says Appleton.

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