OTTAWA, Ont. — A new Canadian electric vehicle retailer is gaining worldwide attention even though it has yet to open its first store.
EVEN Electric chose Ottawa’s annual EV Day Aug. 18 to unveil a business plan in which customers would select a vehicle from display screens showing multiple brands at a boutique outlet, and then collect it at a regional distribution centre or have it delivered to the customer’s driveway.
The strategy, says EVEN chief executive and long-time entrepreneur Mike Elwood, is aimed at younger buyers comfortable with ordering off their iPads and uninterested in making the dealership-to-dealership trek of traditional car shopping.
“The dealership model is the model that we’re moving away from. It’s more of a retail concept,” Elwood, who formed EVEN with Iceland businessman Gisli Gislason and Newfoundland EV reseller John Gordon, said in an interview.
Gordon’s Green Rocks E.V.S. outlet outside St. John’s, Nfld., is expected to become the first EVEN store, followed by a Halifax location, Elwood said. As well, EVEN has deals pending to license outlets in the Czech Republic and Sweden, he said, and hopes to open in Panama in 2017.
While the firm’s bold plan made headlines at numerous technology and green transportation news sites, it still must win over manufacturers that, in North America at least, frown on multi-brand outlets and would be reluctant to send product to a new retailer competing with their franchised dealers.
Elwood said the company expects to be able to sell electric vehicles from China’s BYD Auto Co., Karma Automotive (which took over bankrupt Fiskar) and Faraday Future in markets where they have been approved by regulators.
Similarly, “I can tell you that markets where Tesla does not market its vehicles, we’ll be able to, probably, move some of the Tesla vehicles.”
The CEO said EVEN is self-financed and is not immediately seeking outside investors.
He did not give details on the company’s funding but said the business model is less capital-intensive than traditional auto retailing in which dealers pay for inventory.
Unlike many U.S. states, Canada does not have laws prohibiting manufacturers from selling vehicles to consumers directly or through distributors.