It Ain't EV

Why You Can't Find An EV To Buy From A Dealership Right Now

If you’ve been thinking about getting an electric vehicle, you’re probably out of luck. What gives?

Electric vehicles (EV) line up outside a Tesla dealership in Melbourne on April 19, 2023. (Photo by ...

If you’ve been thinking about getting an electric vehicle (EV), clearly there’s never been better time to get one. First of all, the technology has come out of its adolescence and is more efficient, obviously higher tech, requires less maintenance, and it could be argued are now way more reliable than its gas-powered counterparts. Then there are the deals. Major price cuts from big brands like Tesla to Ford Motors alongside federal tax credits could help car buyers save up to $7,500. If you’re ready to get an EV, there’s only one hitch: It might be hard to find an EV, at least at a traditional car dealership.

According to a new survey by Sierra Club, two-thirds of car dealers in the U.S. did not have a single electric or plug-in hybrid for sale in 2022 — because they didn’t have any new or used to sell.

Why Are EVs So Hard To Find At Dealerships?

The reason why isn’t a lack of demand for an EV but supply chain blockages related to battery and semiconductor production reports Vox. The bottleneck of getting materials for those components is slowing vehicle manufacturers from being able to make enough vehicles to meet the current demand — and for those cars to get on lots to be sold at all.

What Dealerships Are Selling EVs?

The lack of stock was not felt by all carmakers equally. The company that owns Mercedes Benz (if you’re trying to go luxury) is doing just fine with EV stock and had EVs available at 90% of their dealerships. BMW Group, on the other hand, had EVs available at about 76% of their dealerships. Just under 50% of Hyundai dealerships had EVs available, and Ford and Volkswagen were in the same range of EV availability.

But Honda, Toyota, and Subaru clearly have some trouble getting EVs in their lots: only 11% of Honda dealerships, about 15% of Toyota dealerships, and less than 25% of Subaru dealerships had EVs on their lots available for sale.

Would Dealerships Sell More EVs If They Could Get Them?

These shortcomings are despite the fact that, according to The Sierra Club survey, 44% of car dealers who didn’t have any EVs on their lots said they would gladly sell them if they could get any. The other half is where the problem lies: 45% of dealers that don’t have or sell EVs said they wouldn’t sell them even if they were available.

The problem may lie in the benefits that EVs have for consumers: EVs require far less maintenance than a typical gasoline vehicle because you get to skip over valve checks, oil changes, or spark plugs. This also makes them less profitable for car dealerships. That matters because it just so happens “that parts and service can account for nearly half of a dealership’s profits,” Vox explains.

The survey also somewhat paradoxically found that a lack of EV stock doesn’t necessarily mean the EVs aren’t being sold. In fact, it might mean the models are selling like hotcakes. For example, in California, only 19% of dealerships in the state had EVs for sale — despite this, 20% of the car sales in the state were EVs, accounting for 33% of all EV sales nationwide.

Where Are The Most EVs Available?

If you’re hoping to get an EV, Jalopnik notes that southeastern states, like Florida and Georgia, have reported having more stock available. However, in western states like Washington, Oregon, and California, you’ll likely have the hardest time trying to track down a dealer with any EVs in stock.

The short of it is, with a little patience and hunting, you should be able to find an EV for you. Proud EVs owners everywhere will tell you — it’s worth the wait.