These dealers who switched to EVs love their cars.
But customers are harder to convince.
Being an EV owner helps these dealers talk to their staff and customers about the cars.
Ohio car dealer Rhett Ricart has just about every electrified mode of transportation you can think of.
Segway? Check. Electric mountain bike? Check. Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning? Check and check.
Being an EV owner helps Ricart speak with more authority about the experience with both customers and his sales staff, he said. As an added bonus, he's become a big fan of electrified transportation.
Despite his enthusiasm, electric cars are still slow to move on his lot.
"The American public just isn't ready for them yet," Ricart told Business Insider. "If you're a rich guy? Sure they'll buy their Tesla. But now we're talking about the masses. The cashier at Home Depot or the school teacher."
Ricart's experience of hitting a wall with average buyers who are interested in EVs but ultimately can't justify the expense is indicative of a trend that's been popping up on dealer lots all across the US for the last several months.
Affordability is the biggest problem
As the well has dried on wealthy early adopters, dealers have said their approach to selling these pricey plug-ins has required some tweaking.
"People know what electric vehicles are, they know the pluses and the minuses – we're past that," Ricart said. "What really matters now is making a pitch on affordability."
Washington, DC-area dealer Vince Sheehy told Business Insider he has been driving a Mustang Mach-E for a year and a half now. He loves driving it, and his next car is going to be another EV, he said.
But Sheehy, who can afford a luxury EV like the Mach-E and has the lifestyle that fits its range and capabilities, says he's no longer the target audience for these cars.
"They are the slowest moving vehicles right now on our lot," said Sheehy, who owns a large group of foreign and domestic-brand dealerships in the Washington, DC area. "I don't think the manufacturers have yet come to grips with what the right price point needs to be – but it's probably about five grand below where it is today."
The changing EV shopper
Dealers like Sheehy and Ricart have started warning manufacturers that a big shift in EV customers is going to change their business. Car companies are starting to react by pulling back on EV ambitions as sales grind to a halt.
As the segment of wealthy early adopters shrinks, a more fickle EV shopper has emerged. They're coming to the dealership to shop for a car based on price and convenience. While there may be interest in an electric car, these shoppers almost always land on a hybrid or a gas-powered car.
You can see that reflected in an uptick in hybrid demand this year. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are gaining in popularity as a compromise for car buyers to get some of the benefits of driving a cleaner car, without fully committing to an EV.
Read the original article on Business Insider