There's no Operation Warp Speed for national distribution of electric vehicles. Every brand is on its own, and how each goes about it says as much about the brand's relations with retailers as its commitment to cleaner personal transportation.
At issue is who should pay for facility upgrades required to sell and service EVs.
Last month, Cadillac's 880 U.S. dealers were offered a choice of spending at least $200,000 for chargers, tooling and training to be able to sell Cadillac's EVs — starting with the Lyriq in 2022 — or taking a buyout to give up the franchise. About 1 in 6 reportedly cashed in their chips.
Factors outside of electrification are at play within General Motors' halo brand. Cadillac remains over-dealered in the U.S., especially relative to other luxury lines, diluting throughput for its dealer network and squeezing profitability as a result. It's easy to understand why a low-volume Cadillac dealer, facing a large estimate for upgrades, sees a buyout as an attractive exit ramp.
Compare GM's actions with those of Volkswagen as it prepares its network of 650 U.S. dealers to begin selling the electric ID4 compact crossover next year.