- Carmakers are relying on their dealers to sell electric vehicles.
- But less than half of car dealerships had any EVs on their lots last year, according to the Sierra Club.
- Certain brands had more EV inventory than others.
Electric car adoption in the US is making headway, but still creeping up. Yet even for those car shoppers that are eager to drive electric, it’s hard to get your hands on one.
Two-thirds of car dealerships in the US did not have a single new or used EV on their lots, according to a survey by the environmental nonprofit Sierra Club. Interestingly, of the 801 dealerships surveyed from June to November 2022 that did not have an EV for sale, they were divided: Nearly half said they would be willing to sell electric. The other half indicated they weren’t interested in doing so.
Mercedes-Benz had the best EV availability among car brands, per Sierra Club — 90% of its dealerships reported having an EV available. Toyota and Honda, however, were among the worst offenders in terms of availability, with only 15% and 11%, respectively, having one available for sale.
Inventory issues have been prevalent with EVs for a number of reasons. With the exception of Tesla and GM, automakers haven’t yet churned out mass quantities of EVs for the US market. They haven’t yet reached scale and production is still ramping up. Many car companies have even put a limit on their EV orders to catch up with early demand.
Ford, for instance, just reopened its order books for the F-150 Lightning electric pickup after having kept orders exclusive to reservation holders. GM has had a slower-than-expected rollout of the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq EVs, and paused Hummer reservations due to limited building capacity.
But the shortage of EVs on dealership lots is also the result of a mix of supply chain constraints and automaker allocation of EVs to dealerships. All sorts of new electric cars have hit production roadblocks due to parts issues.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a huge problem for car companies pouring trillions into EV development if they can’t get them in the hands of customers. As if cost and charging concerns weren’t a big enough issue, automakers run the risk of turning customers off to the idea of electric if they have a substantially harder time finding one to buy over a gas-powered vehicle.