Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Car dealers suffer from a bad reputation.
Unfortunately, much of this bad reputation has been caused by, well, car dealers.
You want to trust them. And, if they become friends, they begin to reveal some of the deeper, more pungent secrets of their trade.
Too often, though, there’s a sense that car dealers believe people are sheep, all vulnerable to the same arguments.
Perhaps that’s why they try to pull the wool over your eyes.
Science, though, sometimes wants to examine such received wisdoms.
A new study, for example, ventured into the difficult area of which cars the dealers really want you to buy.
A group of international researchers wondered whether dealers were keener to sell you a gas-powered car than an electric one.
So 126 secret shoppers went to 82 different dealerships to see for themselves.
What they found was an enormous lack of enthusiasm on the part of dealers to send customers to the electric side.
In two-thirds of the visits, the dealers tried everything to steer the customers away from electric cars.
They used every conceivable reason, including that they cost too much and it’s easy to run out of charge.
In around 75 percent of the encounters, the dealers didn’t even volunteer that they sold electric cars.
Here’s what’s really strange about this research. It was performed in Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway, countries where the environmental movement is especially strong and where the national souls are geared toward humanity rather than mere naked greed.
“We hypothesized that dealers would actually be more supportive of EVs, especially in the Nordic region, and were somewhat shocked by our findings,” professor Benjamin Sovacool told Digital Trends.
It’s long been an issue in the U.S. that dealers refuse to warm to the likes of Leafs, Volts and Bolts.
Here’s an article from 2014 that says dealers believe selling an electric vehicle takes too long.
Here’s one from 2016 that says only in California and some part of the northeast are dealers even trying.
And here’s one from 2017 which describes how market research company Ipsos sent some secret shoppers out and discovered that U.S. dealers simply hadn’t much of a clue about electric cars and many didn’t even have one at the dealership.
Of course, these days some powerful figures are insisting that global warming doesn’t really exist, so perhaps that, too, has a bearing on the dealers’ bearing.
We’re constantly being told that electric — and self-driving — cars are the future. Not least by poster people of the future like Elon Musk.
The future can be a hard sell, however. Especially if those who are supposed to be doing the selling aren’t themselves sold on it.