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.
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]