EV Transition Relies on America’s Franchise Network, Says Georgia Auto Dealer
WASHINGTON (Jan. 12, 2022)—Cartersville, Ga., Hyundai/Genesis auto dealer Matt Laughridge on Wednesday told members of the House Agriculture Committee that franchised dealers are all-in on electric vehicles and are essential to greater adoption of EVs in more areas of the country, particular across rural America.
“Franchised dealers are not only all-in on selling and servicing EVs; dealers are essential to their speedy adoption by consumers,” Laughridge said in testimony during the hearing entitled “Implications of Electric Vehicle Investments for Agriculture and Rural America.”
Laughridge, who testified on behalf of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), explained the many ways dealers will be critical to advance the process of transitioning millions of Americans from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs, which still comprise less than 3% of new vehicle sales.
“As with any unfamiliar technology, consumers will need to be educated on owning and operating an EV. Customers will also need a reliable nationwide network of qualified service technicians to service their EV or perform safety recalls. Customers will also want a place where they can ‘kick the tires,’ test drive a new EV, trade in their old vehicle, and obtain affordable financing – preferably under one roof,” Laughridge said.
Laughridge also outlined how franchised dealers across America will spend between $2-3 billion on installing electric chargers, purchasing special equipment, parts and tools, and investing in training sales and service personnel in order to prepare for selling and servicing the dozens of new EVs that automakers already are or will soon be manufacturing.
“My two dealerships have already committed to spend $160,000 in upgrades to prepare for future EV sales,” Laughridge said.
Laughridge also encouraged the committee to consider the importance of widespread availability of public charging points as well as non-proprietary charging infrastructure.
“Another challenge that will disproportionately impact rural America is the ease and availability of public charging,” he said. “Today any gasoline-powered vehicle can be refueled at any gasoline pump, but not every EV charger is compatible with every EV. In our view, one of the biggest potential impediments to widespread EV deployment could be avoided if all publicly funded charging stations were made non-proprietary and EVs were standardized so they could be recharged at any charging station.”
“America’s franchised dealers look forward to helping usher in the next chapter of America’s automotive history by doing what dealers do best: selling and servicing automobiles that provide our customers with reliable and affordable private transportation,” Laughridge said.