As DNREC is closing the public comment period for its new electric vehicle regulations, car dealerships across the state aren’t seeing an uptick in buyers.
Sticker shock plays a role in that, dealers say.
Many who are interested finally choose a hybrid vehicle that uses both gasoline and an electric battery.
James Ursomarso, the vice president of the Union Park Automotive Group, said electric vehicles are more expensive than gas-powered.
“It’s a price point issue,” Ursomarso said.
Glenn Stitely, a sales manager at Price Toyota, said they’ve only ever sold one electric vehicle.
But another dealership, which didn’t want to be identified, has sold 25.
Camryn Jordan, a sales manager at Union Park Volvo Automotive Group, said they have 16 electric vehicles on their lot out of the 57 total vehicles they have available.
He finds it unclear whether people like electric vehicles are not.
“Some people…they just aren’t really ready for electric, so they go in the plug-in hybrid kind of direction if they’re not ready for the full [electric],” Jordan said, “especially because, you know, there are more Tesla charging stations out there.”
According to U.S. Department of Energy data, there were 3,010 electric vehicles registered in Delaware as of June 2022.
That’s compared to the 2,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, 16,700 hybrid electric and 796,400 registered gas vehicles in Delaware in 2021.
California has the most registered electric vehicles at 563,100, compared to 315,300 plug-in hybrids, 1,355,900 hybrid electrics, and 30,512,600 gas vehicles.
Meanwhile, six states – Alaska, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming – had no registered electric vehicles in 2022.
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Car dealers in general don’t seem enthusiastic about Gov. John Carney’s executive order asking the Department of Natural Resources and Economic Control to require all new vehicles sold in Delaware to be electric by 2035 to help the environment.
Electric vehicle regs
Delaware’s regulations are based on California’s and target car manufacturers, requiring them to gradually deliver bigger numbers of electric vehicles to Delaware dealers.
Matt MeGee, the manager at the Floyd Megee Motor Co. said he’s among the many people in Delaware who oppose the electric vehicle mandate.
“I think 75% of the people in Delaware disagree with the state going all electric,” he said. “When you go to any dealer meetings or anything like that, there’s a lot of caution in the air about this electric mandate coming down 10 years from now,” MeGee said.
Electric vehicles are more expensive, do more damage to the road and other cars and don’t contribute to the gas tax, MeGee said. In addition, fires from electric vehicles are harder to extinguish, he said.
Many people worry about not being able to find chargers.
“Obviously, you don’t usually have to incentivize something if it’s popular,” he pointed out. “You incentivize something that you’re trying to push on the public, which the federal government’s providing that credit.”
“I think it all started with the government and then trickled down to the manufacturer then and trickled down to the dealer,” Megee said.
MeGee said his company only sells hybrid vehicles.
Out of the 80 cars they have on their lot, 22 are hybrids, while two years ago only about four were hybrids, which was partially due to inventory problems from COVID-19.
They might sell some electric ones next year, he said.
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