I had an interesting experience yesterday, involving a conversation during a Bolt EV sale, that I’d like to share with you.
The customer was ex-military. He was an F-15 pilot, who had served in the Afghanistan conflict. He is a really nice, intelligent guy and we hit it off, a while back, when he came in to discuss the Bolt EV. He decided to place an order and as is my usual method, I kept him apprised of its progress through the manufacturing and shipping process. He was very excited the day I emailed him to say his Bolt EV had arrived!
He had a 2014 Volt lease that was coming to an end, so once his new Bolt EV arrived, he waited a little bit to use up the remainder of his Volt lease. He came in on September 12th to pick up his Bolt EV and drop off his Volt.
As is customary, I asked him to test drive his new Bolt EV before we submitted the paperwork to acquire it. I took him on my usual test drive, which is focused on instruction about the vehicle, even though he’d just completed three years in the Volt. I always show off Sport Mode, L (on the shifter) and the regen paddle (on the steering wheel). I configure the driver information center (the display behind the steering wheel) to “Enhanced,” because it gives the driver quantified information about regen.
At one point, the customer said, “I really like the regen feature. I wish the Volt had had L in the first gen.” When I explained that increased regen, by running in L, has been around since the very first Volts, he was quite surprised.
Then he told me about his experience, getting the Volt. He had dealt with a different dealership whose sales staff really didn’t know about the car. He said, when he asked questions about buttons or functions, their responses were loaded with a lot of “I think…” rather than definitive answers. Some of the advice he had received turned out to be incorrect.
Although General Motors requires the sales staff to pass certain on-line and in-showroom training courses, there’s nothing quite like the experience of driving a plug-in vehicle every day. Otherwise, the information learned is almost anecdotal and can become confused in the salesperson’s mind. If you’re going to buy a pickup, SUV, Camaro or Corvette, just about any dealer will suffice. Most salespeople can easily discuss rear axle gear ratios, torque, Magnetic Ride Control, towing capacity, etc, because they’ve been discussing it (and living it) for years. However, plug-in vehicles are a new thing to most of them.
Another client story was about a clueless salesperson, in the DFW area, that turned him off on the Volt. However, during a trip to Austin, he met a very well-informed female salesperson who could tell him, in great detail, all about the Volt, so he got one.
The most egregious violation, by a salesperson, that I’ve heard so far was posted in a Bolt EV group on Facebook. A buyer was told they could add the optional DC Fast Charging capability after the purchase! I don’t recall if the angry customer, who bought the Bolt EV and later tried to get DCCFC added, ever stated why the salesperson lied. Perhaps all their dealership had is stock were units withoud the option and they needed a sale…
These new vehicles aren’t your dad’s Chevys (unless you’re my daughter, Zoe). They have amazing features and capabilities that need to be shared with those new to the plug-in world. Without this depth of knowledge, a potential customer may walk away from a plug-in vehicle, because no one made a good benefit analysis for the customer. If the customer buys anyway, they won’t get all the benefit of these amazing vehicles or worse, they may get bad advice and actually end up hating their vehicle because they don’t understand it.
If you’re a seasoned plug-in vehicle owner, it isn’t quite as important, where you purchase your new plug-in. However, if you’re a newbie and want the best out of your investment, walk out of any dealership, if the salesperson a) tries to talk you into a vehicle they understand better, b) denigrates your vehicle of choice to switch you away from it or c) doesn’t seem to know much about the vehicle in which you’re interested.
Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.