Say you were running an electric-vehicle startup and trying to figure out how to sell your cars. You might find an instant dealer network of 1,000-plus stores pretty attractive.
At least that's the hope of Best Buy, the Minneapolis-based retail chain.
The consumer electronics chain has been edging into electric transportation, selling Brammo electric motorcycles and winning contracts to install home chargers for the Ford Focus Electric and Mitsubish i EVs. Best Buy will begin those installations this year.
Chad Bell, a senior director who oversees Best Buy's efforts in mobility and transportation, says Best Buy also is talking to automakers about selling EVs.
"We are having conversations with some of the startups," Bell says. "I would say the conversations are going well. We are very excited about several partnerships that we can't talk about yet."
Best Buy has 1,101 U.S. stores. And, Bell notes, "We probably get more traffic in a weekend than some of these dealers do in a month." The benefits for a small automaker trying to cobble together a sales and service network are obvious.
But Bell says Best Buy thinks it can work with traditional automakers, too. He sees opportunities for Best Buy to teach consumers about EVs and related equipment -- syncing a smart phone to a connectivity system, for instance, or helping EV buyers use chargers. Dealers also might outsource such tasks, he says.
Best Buy is just beginning talks with traditional automakers beyond Ford and Mitsubishi, Bell says. And it sees a growth opportunity.
"It's not a short-term play for us," Bell says. "This is a long-term business for us to be in."