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COMMENTARY: Car dealers embracing electric vehicle sales

As the owner of a local car dealership, I’ve heard every myth there is about car buying. My favorite is that “you can get the best deal on a rainy day.” (It’s not true.) The one that bothers me, though, is a new one: that local dealerships don’t want to sell electric vehicles.

As a Nevada auto dealer who has been in the business for 42 years, I can assure you that my colleagues and I are just as excited to sell electric vehicles as gas-powered cars — if not more so.

It’s true that many dealerships harbored reservations about electric vehicles in the past. Ten years ago, EVs were significantly less reliable than they are today. They were much more expensive. Many looked strange, alienating potential buyers. Plus, limited battery life and the lack of charging infrastructure meant you couldn’t travel far on a charge. They were impractical.

But today the picture is different. Today’s electric vehicles are powerful, sleek cars with long ranges. And the ongoing expansion of charging infrastructure makes ownership much more convenient.

Brand new EV manufacturers continue to crop up, while numerous, established automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and others have developed and continue to enhance their own electric cars. Dealers are very much on board.

While some startup car manufacturers have pushed online or direct-to-consumer sales, dealerships offer buyers more benefits. Today’s dealerships sell in person, and almost all have an option to sell online with home delivery. And whereas direct-to-consumer companies tend not to budge on price, competition between neighboring dealers has been proven to drive down prices on the same model.

Perhaps most important is the fact that dealerships deliver on the promise of maintenance and repairs over the long term — a service that’s even more important for new, high-tech vehicles. Any solid mechanic can fix your old, gas-powered Ford. But at this moment in history, most don’t know how to repair or maintain an electric car. That direct-to-consumer online sale may seem like a great deal — until you find yourself hundreds of miles from the nearest manufacturer-owned service center.

And unlike those far-off corporations, auto dealerships have proven themselves as pillars of their local economies. In 2020, Nevada’s nearly 100 new-car dealerships were responsible for more than 10,000 jobs, which paid an average annual salary of more than $73,000. Dealerships also sent more than $670 million in sales tax to state coffers. You see auto dealers backing everything from your local little league to homeless shelters, universities and just about every other worthy cause in our state.

Electric vehicles are here to stay. If you’re ready for one — or even just think you might be — there’s no need to abandon customer service, competitive pricing or access to repairs on your future car. That’s what auto dealerships are for.

Don Hamrick is President of Nevada Operations for Chapman Automotive Group and general manager/managing partner of Chapman Las Vegas Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram.

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