How will retailers manage EV waiting times?
19 May 2019
Has the Hyundai experience with its Kona EV shone a spotlight on a potentially huge but so far little talked about fly in the whole EV ointment?
You probably know that Hyundai has an order bank of around 2,000 for its Kona EV but because the car is still at least 12 months away are now offering a cheap, short term lease in a hybrid for those forced to wait.
This week VW press office told me there is a big – but not publicly disclosed! – number of people who have paid a £750 deposit to secure their name in the early right-hand drive model production schedule. Across Europe more than half the pre-order volume has already been accounted for this way.
A day later I rang Peugeot following the news that in the French market the forthcoming e-208 is being pitched at around £260 pcm on a 48 month lease against £250 for a diesel and £235 for a petrol. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed and it wouldn’t reveal how many have been reserved but the press officer I spoke to say did say they are “feeling positive” about the level of interest in the car. I bet they are.
MG has taken some 800 expressions of interest for the electric version of its ZS due this September, the most it has ever had for a pre-launch scheme and I dare say that as other brands introduce their EVs there will be similarly strong demand.
The fly in the EV ointment could be how retailers are expected to manage the inevitable production delays and subsequent frustration of the customers. It’s one thing EV uptake being held back a lack of recharging infrastructure but it’s another when manufacturers have promised a car that thousands of people are queuing up to buy but then can’t deliver.
That will be where the retailers really earn their money. At the moment EVs are selling themselves, an easy sell to willing buyers, but just wait until the headlines start reporting disgruntled punters fed up with the delay.
This, many retailers argue, is precisely why they will resist the trend to online buying and will always have a place because they and only they are uniquely placed to handle the one-on-one conversations with disappointed customers and have the skills to manage the situation and turn a negative into a positive.
If you want evidence of this, look no further than Adrian Wallington, managing director of London-based Endeavour Automotive retail group and Hyundai dealer who came up with the idea of putting together a low cost, short term lease in a hybrid as a goodwill gesture to would-be Kona EV owners.
Take note all you other retailers, it will be your turn next.