Dealers think the Biden administration’s EV policies are forcing the auto industry to move ahead of market demand, according to a new Automotive News survey.
The publication’s 2024 Dealer Outlook Survey compiled responses from 208 U.S. car dealers and dealership managers. Nearly 83% of those surveyed said the federal government was pushing too hard on EVs.
Dealers are particularly concerned about proposed EPA emissions rules for model years 2027 to 2032 which that agency has said could lead to up to 67% EV sales, according to Automotive News. The rules haven’t been finalized, but that process could be completed as soon as March, the industry journal noted.
Honda future dealership design for selling EVs – 2022
Respondents claimed consumer interest in EVs doesn’t support this level of industry commitment, with 55% saying “EVs weren’t generating customer interest or sales at their stores,” according to the report.
Along with concerns about charging infrastructure, some dealers reportedly cited “affordability concerns or a lack of inventory” as reasons for the lack of EV interest. The latter isn’t exactly an issue that’s inherent to EVs, or one that would likely persist if automakers were forced to make more EVs to meet regulatory targets. The report also quotes a general manager for a Mazda dealer—a brand that doesn’t have any EVs in its lineup currently.
Surprisingly, 57% of respondents thought that the new point-of-sale rebate for the federal EV tax credit would have no effect on EV sales, or they were unsure. More than half still haven’t registered for the rebate and 22% said they did not plan to register. Dealers pointed to how few vehicles qualify in 2024, due to sourcing rules, as making the tax credit less important for driving EV sales.
2024 Cadillac Lyriq
Several respondents also voiced the need for more affordable hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. This comes shortly after reported comments from General Motors CEO Mary Barra indicating the automaker would reverse its previous EV-centric policy and add plug-in hybrids to its U.S. lineup.
Previous dealer grumbling at EVs pointed to investments needed to sell them. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said last year that dealers will spend $5.5 billion on EV infrastructure. In the face of costly upgrades, some dealerships have opted to get out of the business entirely—and maybe that’s their best option.