Auto dealerships across Scandinavia are actively discouraging customers from buying electric vehicles or failing to talk about them at all, according to the results of a mystery shopper investigation published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy.
“In two-thirds of all shopping experiences, sales personnel strongly or solely oriented the customer to select a petrol or diesel vehicle, and actively dismissed EVs,” the study team reported, based on 126 enquiries at 82 dealerships in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland.
“To an astonishing degree, the dealers denigrated electric vehicles, misinformed customers on specifications such as range or charging requirements, and omitted EVs from their sales pitches,” Agence France-Presse reports, citing the published study. The findings “reveal an overlooked barrier to the sale of electric vehicles, which are expected to play a key role in lowering CO2 emissions and curbing global warming.”
Among the choice comments the study recorded, one sales rep told the researchers: “Do not buy this electric car, it will ruin you financially.” Another claimed an EV on offer “only goes 80 kilometres per hour”, less than half its actual top speed.
And yet, “these discouragements are at odds with actual levels of customer satisfaction,” AFP notes, with participants in a U.S. Consumer Reports survey rating EVs more reliable than internal combustion cars. In Scandinavia, “lower profit margins, lack of knowledge, and the extra time needed to seal a deal were among the reasons sales personnel were reluctant to promote EVs, according to industry insiders cited in the study.”
Responses did vary among the Nordic countries. EV-friendly Norway—with plug-in hybrid electrics accounting for 5% of its fleet, and 40% of its sales last year—showed the least dealer hostility.