It's long been known that getting some car dealerships to sell plug-in electric cars can be a challenge.
Now, one reporter tested the thesis for himself, by visiting both his local Tesla store--to inquire about the Model S electric luxury sedan--and his local Chevrolet dealer, to ask about the Volt range-extended electric car.
The results of his little experiment just underscore what many electric-car buyers have experienced or heard: Dealerships for existing carmakers can pose a major hurdle.
In this case, the reporter was Brooke Crothers, who wrote about his car-shopping expedition on Forbes a couple of weeks ago.
The piece is absolutely worth reading on its own, and it highlights several points about the different experiences in a Tesla Store versus a large Chevrolet dealership.
Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
But the summary is telling: "Tesla offers a glimpse of the future while the Chevy dealer is more like a drive down memory lane."
Crothers notes that the Tesla service center was as clean and pristine as the showroom (no gasoline or oil, among other things).
He also said his local Chevrolet dealer really appeared to be a truck dealer, with a few sedans (plus a Corvette for sex appeal) off in a corner.
Indeed, the Silverado full-size pickup truck is by far the best-selling model Chevrolet makes.
And the Volt? Well, his dealer had one on the lot, but he had to ask for it.
Yes, Chevy's most technically sophisticated vehicle, and the one that has higher customer-satisfaction scores than any other vehicle in GM's history, wasn't even in the showroom.
Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada [photo: RoulezElectrique.com]
The article certainly isn't a statistically valid survey, but many products and stores rise and fall on anecdotal tales as much as solid survey data.
And those Chevy dealers that make an effort to educate their staff, hire a Volt specialist, and otherwise focus on selling plug-in electric vehicles quickly gain a reputation.
That means they'll likely be widely recommended among owners and advocacy groups. (One example: Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada.)
Still, this latest article points out once more that Tesla's single-minded focus on electric cars--and no other products--brings numerous advantages that legacy automakers must struggle to overcome.
Not the least of them the legally-protected franchise dealership system.