"So if I were a dealer, one of my challenges for my sales force is discerning which kind of customer is coming in the door, either digitally or physically, and how to sort out which pitch they need," Mercer said. "This is no longer a simple story, marketing wise."
Is there even money to be made selling EVs?
DiStanislao said that so far he'd had an "excellent experience as it relates to the profit per unit relevant to the rest of our line."
And concerns about lower maintenance requirements for EVs — and thus lower service lane revenue — so far have not panned out, dealers said. It helps that EVs use relatively new technology, and customers have more needs around understanding it.
That has led to dealers such as Di Stanislao and Luciano to hire new EV-focused specialists.
At the same time, automakers have seemed eager to help with issues that arise with EVs, those two dealers said.
But retailers still have questions about how EV sales play out in areas such as finance and insurance. For example, what kind of responsibility — or opportunity — do dealers have to help EV buyers get charging stations installed at their homes?
"That becomes an F&I issue; that becomes part of the F&I menu," Di- Stanislao said. Asked whether it's a growth opportunity, he said it's "both a growth and a liability issue" because the dealer has to find personnel capable of such work.
Payment-aware EV shoppers also are wary of the low residuals seen on some of the vehicles, DiStanislao said.
And, ultimately, money matters to most shoppers.
"It still is going to go back at some point, to a lot of people, to overall cost of ownership," Luciano said. "What's the total cost of it daily? What's it going to cost me to drive it?"