With car dealers often viewed as an impediment to successful sales of plug-in electric cars, recognizing dealerships that embrace and promote plug-in cars is crucial to changing hearts and minds.
Earlier this week, the winners of Canada's second-annual Electric Vehicle Dealership Awards were announced at the EV2015VÉ Conference and Trade Show in the province of Nova Scotia.
The awards were handed out by the Canadian Electricity Association and Plug'n Drive, an electric car advocacy group.
DON'T MISS: A Third Of This Dealer's Sales Are Chevy Volt Electric Cars: How'd They Do It? (Nov 2014)
Sponsors included the Canadian Automobile Association and Electric Mobility Canada, the country's national electric transportation organization.
(U.S. readers may also be interested in Plug'n'Drive's guide to enabling electric-car charging in condominiums, which includes a checklist (pp 22-23) for apartment-dwellers looking to go fossil-free.)
2015 Canadian Electric Vehicle Dealership Award winners, May 2015
Last year's winner, Bourgeois Chevrolet in Quebec, became a repeat winner of 2015's Leading Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Dealership Award.
A dip in its plug-in hybrid sales from roughly one-third to one-fifth of dealership volume in recent months can likely be explained by limited inventory (due to the imminent changeover to the second-generation Volt).
ALSO SEE: Rewarding Dealers Who Sell Electric Cars: Connecticut Takes The Lead (May 2014)
Lower gas prices likely also contributed, which may--paradoxically--indicate that electric vehicles are already "crossing the chasm" that separates price-insensitive early adopters from more mainstream early-majority buyers who prioritize financial pragmatism.
The decision by Bourgeois management to train its entire sales team in selling of electric vehicles is no doubt key to its continuing success.
Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station
Multi-day test drives given to prospective customers probably help, as do the 21 separate 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations that dot the dealership – bringing to mind the "Great Wall of Chargers" at Tesla's Fremont factory.
The Leading Battery Electric Vehicle Dealership Award went to Motorize Auto of British Columbia, where almost two-thirds of its sales are battery-electric vehicles.
Last year, it sold about 25 Nissan Leafs in the Vancouver Island region, whose population is roughly equal to that of Alaska, and more than twice that elsewhere in the province.
That makes Motorize responsible for almost half of all Nissan Leaf sales in British Columbia during 2014.
Every time an existing customer refers a new buyer, the dealership's customer referral program donates $300 to an organization that builds local charging infrastructure.
(While the money originally went to the referrers, they banded together and asked the dealership to direct the funds towards infrastructure instead.)
2014 BMW i3 in Vancouver, Canada [photo: Don Chandler]
The Electric Vehicle Dealership Inspiration Award – reserved for dealerships in provinces without a plug-in incentive program – went to Green Rock E.V.S. from Newfoundland. (The name is a reference to the province's nickname: "The Rock".)
Green Rock focuses exclusively on electric transportation, offering the gamut from bikes and scooters to automobiles and chargers.
Clean Across Canada Mitsubishi i-MiEV
It participated in last year's cross-country E-Mazing Race, and provided electric transportation for Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki during a speaking tour.
As for the Awards themselves, they're based on five criteria, to compensate for the fact that dealerships in large cities tend to see higher sales volumes of every vehicle.
While sales count, manufacturer certification (when applicable) is another factor, as are the dealership's onsite and community marketing, and education outreach efforts.
An eight-person committee judges the applications.