Still Hard to Buy a BEV
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Sunday March 18, 2018 – Still Hard to Buy a BEV – Back in 1999 I tried to buy a BEV and it proved way too hard which is why I founded evfinder.com. While it is much easier now it can still be frustratingly difficult as a friend of mine found out recently while trying to find an all electric car.
His situation is probably not all that uncommon. He had leased his Leaf a little over 3 years ago and at the end of the lease Nissan allowed him to extend the it a little while waiting for the new Nissan Leaf to arrive in dealerships. Like many drivers who have driven electric he doesn't want to go back to an ICE although he does have a family minivan that he is hanging onto for the time being. At the time of the launch, Nissan said they had 13,000 orders for the new Leaf, and as of the end of February they had only delivered about 1,000 cars so pickings at the dealerships are slim.
Tom hasn't been able to find a car that is the right trim level and color for him at the local Nissan dealerships and with only 2 more weeks before he has to return his Leased Leaf, and Nissan being inflexible about another extension even if he does place an order for the Leaf he wants and is waiting for it to arrive. He ruled out the Bolt because he didn't need to 238 mile range and wanted a somewhat lower price point on the car. The price point was also an issue with the e-Golf and the BMW i3. Price, plus the 2 year wait list, also ruled out the Tesla Model 3. He also wanted to stick with pure electric rather than going plug-in hybrid.
Tom is lucky as he lives in Southern California and so he doesn't have the issue with cars not being available here, at least on paper. He has several choices that will fit his daily driving requirements within his budget, the Fiat 500e, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Smart Electric Drive, Kia Soul EV, and Honda Clarity Electric. The Fiat 500e and Smart electric drive were ruled out up front because they were really too small for the needs of him and his family. Finding a suitable electric car from the remaining three became a challenge.
His first hurdle was finding actual cars on dealer lots. Honda for example have an excellent lease deal on the Clarity electric which is only available for lease anyway. The car fit his needs perfectly, it had the size and range he needed in a package that was well within his budget. The problem was that nobody appeared to have them in stock. He contracted several local dealers in his area and he found very few who were willing to admit that these cars even existed. They wanted to push him into a regular ICE vehicle or perhaps the plug-in hybrid but none could offer him a Clarity Electric.
I did a search checking out the dealerships that were most likely to carry this car such as Scott Robinson in Torrance who was the main Southern California Honda Dealer for the EV+ and the Civic CNG. They had plenty of Clarity PHEV and even a couple of Clarity FCEV but no Clarity Electric. I didn't search all the Honda dealerships in LA and Orange Counties but I did do a pretty good selection and I couldn't find a single Honda Clarity Electric in Inventory.
Next I moved on the Hyundai to see if I could find an Ioniq Electric. It was the same story I found at Honda, dealers had the Ioniq hybrid and the Ioniq PHEV but not the Ioniq Electric. Again I tried a good sample of the local dealers especially the ones I know are large volume dealerships. I even went as far as checking the Hyundai dealership in Palm Springs but could not find a since electric listed. One thing that did surprise me is that in many dealerships I found that they had more PHEV that standard hybrids in stock.
I had a bit better luck with the Kia Soul EV. I found that most dealers I checked had some in stock even if it was just one or two. I even found a dealership in Glendale that had 22 listed in inventory although they did not list any pricing information on their web site, they just asked people to call for pricing.
I have a couple of suggestions for him. Right now there are a few Chevy dealerships that still have some unsold 2017 Bolts in stock. I also came across a few VW e-Golf that were at a lower price point than the normal price and these would probably meet his needs too. I checked several VW dealerships and they also seemed to have one or two e-Golf in stock but I found I had to search around to find them, it wasn't obvious that they were there until I dug around a little.
Tom has recently been looking at deals on Volts which would probably allow him to do most of his driving in electric but he really wants to stay full Battery Electric. His experience looking for cars has been pretty much what we have seen since 1997, car sales personnel who are clueless about electric cars, those that want to push you into a car that makes them the most money which is never the electric model, and dealerships that just don't bother to stock cars. I hope he can find something before he is due to return his Leaf.
Just an update, Tom followed up on a lead I gave him for an unsold 2017 Chevy Bolt that was heavily discounted and is now the proud owner of a very nice blue one.
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