INDEPENDENT dealers need new skills to meet customers’ needs as larger numbers of alternative fuel vehicles make their way on to the used market, the RAC Dealer Network said today.
Almost all electric vehicles and a large proportion of hybrids remain within franchise dealer networks, but increasing volumes mean more will soon be found at independents, said Sean Kent, sales director at the RAC Dealer Network, which partners with The Warranty Group, now part of Assurant.
‘AFVs still account for just a small part of the car parc. Even today, they represent only about five per cent of new car sales. However, their numbers will inevitably increase, perhaps quite quickly, and more will be seen in all areas of the used car market from family hatchbacks to SUVs and executive cars,’ he said.
‘To date, our experience is that independent dealers have tended to largely stay away from these vehicles, with the exception of a few well-established models such as the Toyota Prius, because they hold a perception that consumers don’t understand them and demand is low.
‘What is likely to soon happen, though, is that we will see greater interest on the part of used car buyers in this type of vehicle thanks to wider acceptance and visibility – and dealers need to be ready to meet their needs.’
An important first step was to ensure that sales staff had a good understanding of the different types of AFV technology and could identify how they could meet the requirements of individual customers, he said.
‘If someone walks into a showroom and wants an AFV, then the dealer must be able to talk them through the available options and the practicalities. Do your sales staff know the pros and cons of different types of hybrid, for example? Could they explain the charging process for an EV and how charging points can be found? Do they know the emissions standards for their local Clean Air Zone?
‘We are at a point where independent dealers will soon need to have these skills simply in order to meet the requirements of the market and, in turn, ensure their own future survival and prosperity. This is not a subject that they can afford to ignore.’