Dealers market and sell a wide variety of products and technologies—and they do it very well. As one example, more electric vehicles are sold through dealerships than by any other means. Moreover, automakers can establish their own criteria with dealers to reflect each brand’s uniqueness—down to the uniforms worn by sales staff, special training for personnel, and how the vehicles are displayed.
Dealers are on the forefront of selling cars with advanced technologies. In 2013, franchised new-car dealers sold the lion’s share of the country’s pure electric vehicles (EVs) and virtually all of the country’s plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. (The number of EVs sold last year more than doubled to approximately 47,600 units but still represents only .03% of the overall U.S. vehicle market.) Of the EVs sold last year, nearly 29,000 were sold by franchised new-car dealers (60.5% of the market)In addition, franchised new-car dealers sold nearly 49,000 plug-in electric vehicles and 490,000 hybrid electric vehicles. To compare, Tesla sold approximately 18,900 Model S units in the U.S. last year and no plug-ins or hybrid electric vehicles. Tesla has suggested that, as its sales rise, it may well consider franchise dealerships. The notion that an automaker must own its sales outlets to ensure that its products are appropriately marketed is proven false in the marketplace today. Every automaker establishes specific standards for how its cars are marketed and serviced. Franchise agreements define the design of all branding elements—including uniforms worn by the sales and service staffs, special training for sales and service personnel.