You might be surprised by the brands that fared best in a new study examining how knowledgeable dealership sales staff are about plug-in hybrid vehicles.
A study conducted by Consumer Reports sent 19 secret shoppers to 85 dealerships across four states between December, 2013 and March, 2014. The spies gauged how knowledgeable salespeople at stores with plug-in vehicles are about the products. It turns out that Toyota and Honda scored at the bottom while General Motors, Ford and Nissan did particularly well.
That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Nissan and both Detroit automakers are heavily invested in selling alternative powertrain vehicles. Toyota and Honda emphasize other options more heavily. For example, Ford offers the C-Max and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids as well as a fully electric version of the Focus. Of course, Nissan’s big electric push is with the Leaf, and GM with the Volt, although there is also the Spark EV and Cadillac ELR. Toyota and Honda are both working fervently to market hydrogen-powered cars.
In fact, Consumer Reports found that Toyota salespeople were actually likely to discourage customers from buying a plug-in vehicle. They were also less likely to give accurate information about those vehicles than the staff at other dealerships.
Honda dealers on average had fewer plug-in vehicles on the lot than other dealerships examined. The study also found that stores without stocked electric cars generally had sales staffs with less knowledge about the cars.
Even a sales manager at Manhattan Ford – the only dealer owned by the company – said the store didn’t have a Focus EV when it did. Then the manger said the car wasn’t available to lease, which it is. Many salespeople also didn’t understand the advantages of leasing an EV. Lease customers can take advantage of the big tax rebates associated with buying a plug-in car without having to wait until filing their taxes.
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[Source: Consumer Reports]