As most consumers do not have pre-existing knowledge of electric vehicles (EVs), and current market conditions favour petrol and diesel vehicles, car dealership experiences may strongly influence EV purchasing decisions. Here, we show that car dealerships pose a significant barrier at the point of sale due to a perceived lack of business case viability in relation to petrol and diesel vehicles. In 126 shopping experiences at 82 car dealerships across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, we find that dealers were dismissive of EVs, misinformed shoppers on vehicle specifications, omitted EVs from the sales conversation and strongly oriented customers towards petrol and diesel vehicle options. Dealers' technological orientation, willingness to sell and displayed knowledge of EVs were the main contributors to likely purchase intentions. These findings combined with expert interviews suggest that government and industry signalling affect sales strategies and purchasing trends. Policy and business strategies that address barriers at the point of sale are needed to accelerate EV adoption.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
The authors are grateful to X. Lin and K. Probert for support in conducting some of the mystery shopping visits at dealerships. The authors are grateful to the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) Energy Program Grant EP/K011790/1 ‘Center on Innovation and Energy Demand’, and the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) Sapere Aude grant 4182-00033B ‘Societal Implications of a Vehicle-to-Grid Transition in Northern Europe’, which have supported elements of the work reported here. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the RCUK Energy Program or the DFF. This project has also received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 730403 ‘Innovation pathways, strategies and policies for the Low-Carbon Transition in Europe (INNOPATHS)’. The content of this deliverable does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed herein lies entirely with the authors.