Dealer Kevin Zimic is gearing up for the electric future by moving his Ford store into a new building to accommodate the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, one of a slew of electric vehicles being launched by automakers over the next few years.
Zimic’s new Cambridge, Ont., dealership will be “much more reflective” of Ford’s EV plans.
“We’ve got to get used to what the shop floor of the future looks like,” said Zimic, who also heads the Ford national dealer council.
“You’re going to see the toolboxes shrink and the software and the hard drives in the laptops that my technicians currently use get more robust and substantive.”
NO PANDEMIC PANIC
While COVID-19 has put pressure on automakers’ research-and-development budgets, many are proceeding with their EV launch plans.
In August, Hyundai and Cadillac were among the brands to detail plans for upcoming vehicles.
As part of its pledge to electrify its lineup by 2030, Cadillac unveiled its first fully electric vehicle, the Lyriq crossover, which is claimed to have more than 480 kilometres of range.
Shane Peever, Cadillac Canada managing director, said the luxury brand expects to have “significant” sales of the Lyriq, which launches in 2022. The Lyriq will target existing customers who might not have considered buying an EV before, Peever said.
“Because the brand is shifting to an EV strategy, it’s critical for us to make that connection with our own customers,” he said.
Although he would not provide details, Peever said Cadillac Canada will “spend quite a bit of time to prepare” its dealer network for the launch of the Lyriq.
Hyundai Canada plans to launch three new Ioniq EV models over the next four years. The decision by the automaker to spin off the Ioniq nameplate into its own subbrand will help distinguish it from the rest of the company’s lineup, said Hyundai Canada CEO Don Romano.
The company also plans to use its Hyundai for Hire service, currently being piloted in Ontario, to help people become more comfortable with driving EVs. Under the service, customers rent vehicles from dealers for extended periods, allowing them to get a feel for how the vehicle would fit into their lives.
SALES PLUGGING AWAY
The push by automakers for electrification has been spurred in recent years by rising fuel-efficiency mandates around the globe as well as pressure from both Wall Street and environmental groups.
While EV sales have grown, they still lag far behind those of internal-combustion vehicles.
In Canada, EV sales accounted for about three per cent of all new vehicles sold in 2019. During the second quarter of 2020, EV sales plunged 50 per cent compared with the same period in 2019, according to Electric Mobility Canada. Third-quarter EV numbers aren’t yet available.
The new-vehicle market as a whole fell about 45 per cent during the second quarter.
But proponents of EVs hope the launches of new electric models and the marketing surrounding them will boost consumer demand.
“The more that you start to see ads and all the different things, it gets into people’s psychology that this is an option for them,” said Cara Clairman, CEO of Plug ’n Drive, which helps raise EV awareness and offers test drives in a nonsales environment.
“The more the merrier, because you’ll get the awareness coming up. Even if it’s a brand [consumers are] not interested in, they might start thinking about it.”