The Verge reports that Buick–currently in the middle of reinventing itself as an EV-only maker by 2030–has offered to buy out any of its dealerships that don’t want to pay for the necessary upgrades to sell EVs.
If a dealership chooses the buyout, then it can no longer sell Buick vehicles but can still sell other General Motors vehicles. Green Car Reports says, “Although the automaker saw about a third of dealers take the deal for Cadillac, many Buick dealers are already configured to sell GMC trucks, too, and the buzz around the Hummer EV might keep more of these stores willing to upgrade.”
And it is an upgrade. Transitioning from a mostly ICE-selling dealership to an all-EV is expensive, especially on a by-the-end-of-the-decade time frame. Dealers would have to shell out up to $300,000 for new EV-specific repair equipment as well as chargers, and that doesn’t take into account the major business model changes.
The standard selling model in EVs has been set by direct-to-consumer models like Tesla and Rivian, and traditional dealerships are struggling to approximate that buying experience within their traditional sales strategy.
“An Auto News 2022 Dealer Outlook Survey of 196 dealers and dealership managers found that the majority of respondents were unhappy with President Joe Biden’s full-throated support for EVs, noting that EVs still represent less than 10 percent of overall sales,” says the Verge, highlighting the fact that the overhead policy changes made at a federal or corporate level aren’t always resonating with dealers on the ground.
Nonetheless, GM forges ahead with its EV agenda, and its dealerships will have to grapple with these shifts sooner or later. GM currently offers a small stable of EVs (the Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV; the Cadillac Lyriq; and the Hummer EV) but plans to release several new EVs in 2023, including the highly-anticipated all-electric Chevy Silverado pickup truck.