By on March 22, 2021

The latest from Detroit has General Motors considering tweaking its delivery strategy for electric vehicles. While this appears to tangentially fall into the industry trend of trying to shove EVs into an online sales model, GM’s plan is distinctive and would introduce centralized inventory lots for the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt (hatchback and EUV) before Christmas. But we can already see the dual-sized nature of the plan that will be used to promote and condemn it, should things move forward.

General Motors could be seen as throwing dealerships a bone by finding a way for those located in areas where EV buyers are less prevalent to provide their customers with electrified options. This saves them from having to prep their lots for charging and making space for vehicles people might not bother buying until the technology has further matured. However, with industry giants (including GM) vowing to continue making more of their lineup battery-powered, dealers might also view this as a coy way for the manufacturer to obtain more control over retail operations. Other manufacturers have already explained that they want to prioritize online sales of electric automobiles, with the end result likely mimicking the Tesla sales model … something that doesn’t include traditional dealerships. 

Automotive News, which first reported GM pondering the delivery plan, described it as “a page out of Amazon’s playbook.” It also added that the strategy would be worked into the manufacturer’s broader ambition of digitizing both product and sales.

From AN:

GM plans to launch at least 30 EVs globally by mid-decade, including 20 in North America, and it’s targeting a zero-emission lineup of light vehicles by 2035. As the automaker outlines significant EV promises, executives are calling for a change in the retail model to cut out unnecessary costs and improve customer experience.

At least initially, customers who want to purchase an electric GMC Hummer pickup or Cadillac Lyriq, both due within the next year, will make a reservation with GM before connecting with a dealership. The automaker has also launched a tool for dealers to more easily track inventory from the plant to their stores and plans to implement a Tekion-powered digital retail tool for EVs as soon as this summer.

The Bolt pools would push GM further into using its EV goals to reshape dealership operations within the limitations of state franchise laws.

The company has previously suggested that it wanted to introduce a new retail platform for EVs But GM indicated that nothing has been decided. Though a verdict on the Bolts would need to be reached relatively quickly since they’re arriving this summer and the plan calls for having dedicated lots before year’s end.

“EV inventory pools are just one of the ideas we’re investigating, working closely with our dealer councils, to support the expansion of EVs,” explained a GM spokesperson.

[Images: General Motors]

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17 Comments on “GM Considers Sharing Chevy Bolt Between Dealers...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “trying to shove EVs into an online sales model”

    Let me help: “trying to shove EVs into mainstream sales”.

    ““EV inventory pools are just one of the ideas we’re investigating, working closely with our dealer councils, to support the expansion of EVs,” explained a GM spokesperson”

    Towing the Party line I see.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    One very important – and comforting – feature of a Tesla store: Despite their online ordering, you can test drive an actual car.

    I test drove a Model 3 there, and test drove a Model S prior to that at one of Tesla’s demo events held at a country club or something.

    With GM’s plan, I foresee potential customers not being able to test drive a vehicle they might have interest in, or – more likely – the sales staff will simply ignore the EVs they don’t have on the lot.

    The cynic in me says:
    1. Perhaps enough smaller dealers have pushed back against selling and supporting EVs, that GM is afraid of losing them all. This could be a measure to save face rather than deal with civil war.

    2. This is GM’s way to have plausible deniability when their electric program fails. “Lack of market demand” will be key words in the press release.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I don’t think this precludes testing driving one at your nearest dealer. It just means you won’t be limited to the one or two on the lot or if the dealer can negotiate a trade with another dealer.

      I also believe that GM will require you to have technicians trained in the service of the Bolt and have the required special tools and equipment to charge the vehicle even if it is just a level 2 unit in the service dept and one out front for demos and customers.

      So once you’ve driven the demo and decided to at least get a price you sit down with the salesman and he pulls up the inventory at the local pool lot as well as any in transit to the lot. Then you drill down the options list in order of importance. The only real problem is that it makes it much more difficult to drive away today. Sure if you are there during the time the pool lot is open and has a truck to deliver yeah you get your car today. Make the deal at the end of the day and you may be waiting until tomorrow to drive it home. But the advantage is you potentially had significantly more combinations to choose from vs a dealer that kept 2 or 3 in stock.

      I think it would be a nice set up for all vehicles and it might help bring back cars in color. It should minimize the number of times the salesperson has to say, sorry we only have silver-beige and beige-silver in that trim level. Now if you step up to the next trim I can get you gold-beige.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      1. Good point.
      2. Then why promote it at all if they think there is a real possibility of failure? When is the last time you saw anything about the Nissan Leaf? Nissan realized that money is better spent on Kicks, Rogue etc. Cheaper and easier for it to be the thing in the corner the limited amount of customers who come in for it have to ask about.

      • 0 avatar

        This is the reason Nissan sells 2 million more vehicles a year than GM. It is hard to believe GM was the world’s number one carmaker just 15 years ago. They are now in fifth place and dropping. Their foray into electric cars will just make them even weaker in the market place. I wish GM was strong as Nissan, but they are simply just too small to compete now.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    So the dealers won’t have to worry about their floorplan financing on these…but will still have to worry about it for their other cars?

    I think there’s an obvious outcome here.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Too late for the local dealer who sold me my Bolt (and is actually one of the few that has bought wholesale into the EV transition).

    Thanks to a massive f#ckup on someone’s part—no one is admitting whose—their entire first order of 2019 Bolts, something like 40 cars, was delivered in the Shock color (safety-jacket chartreuse). I could have gotten a further $3000 off the price of my Bolt by buying a Shock one; not worth it. They were still trying to sell the last few by the end of 2020, while at the same time moving black and grey units out the door as fast as they could get them in.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I believe there are significant advantages to be gained by adjusting the placement of deck chairs on the Promenade.

    – April 13, 1912

  • avatar

    most dealers would rather have HIV than EV.

  • avatar

    Dealers have traditionally been used by the factory as a production shock absorber…the factory has to run at a set speed, but demand fluctuates. The OEM can push that off on dealers, making them take stock, “Sales Bank”, or encouraging sales of particular models….the Tesla Model does not have that shock absorber built in….

  • avatar

    The Bolt continues to be GM worst selling passenger sedan. There are big problems for GM’s electric vehicle push if they can barely move 20,000 Bolts a year. Does anyone here really believe GM will ever sell 10,000 EV hummers a year.

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