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How to Double or Triple Electric Vehicle Sales in Your Community

Posted by Will Toor Thu, 03/10/2016 - 04:09 PM Categories: Transportation

Are you interested in doubling or tripling electric vehicle sales in your area? Communities across the Southwest have found an innovative way to significantly increase electric vehicle sales: a group purchase program that provides a time limited opportunity for their residents to get discounts on purchasing an electric vehicle.

Here are the results to date:

  • In one Colorado program in Adams, Boulder and Denver Counties, 248 Nissan Leafs were sold in 4 months, more than doubling sales compared to the previous year.  Sales from this program accounted for 5% of national LEAF sales from September to December of 2015. This program paired EVs with home solar, and also sold 147 home solar systems.
  • In Fort Collins, Colorado another program saw sales at the local Nissan dealership more than triple compared to last year, from 15 to 52.
  • A third program in the Salt Lake City area sold 75 electric vehicles over a six week period -nearly doubling the sales of electric vehicles compared to the entire state of Utah over the same period the year before. 

The discounts provided by local dealerships and vehicle manufacturers, combined with state and federal tax incentives, can make EVs attractive even to those who haven’t considered buying them before.  A survey showed that 72% of the vehicle purchasers in the largest program were not intending to buy an EV prior to the program showing that these programs are pulling in new customers and not just attracting people who were already planning to buy EVs.

One of the great advantages of a group purchase program is that it is a very inexpensive, but high impact, program for a local agency to run. The local agency leverages the collective buying power of their constituents to negotiate a discount from private sector providers (the car dealers and auto companies) and then gets the word out to the community. For a very small outlay of staff time and money you can create a big impact in the community. For example, Boulder County invested only $7,000 in staff time and advertising costs while leveraging over $5 million in EV sales.

SWEEP has authored a case study of the group purchase program in Adams, Boulder and Denver Counties which provides in depth information on the development and results of the program.

For local governments or other agencies interested in developing their own EV group purchase program, SWEEP partnered with the Colorado Energy Office to prepare a handbook laying out all the steps to putting a program together. This handbook is intended for local governments, utilities, nonprofits, or other agencies that are interested in offering a group purchase program. In Colorado, Refuel Colorado coaches will work with local agencies to help set up these programs. Contact information can be found at http://refuelcolorado.com/refuel-colorado-fleets.

A group purchase program can serve as a very effective tool to help your constituents understand that there are EVs available today that are affordable, comfortable, and able to meet the needs for many types of trips. Starting a group purchase program may be one of the most effective programs for spurring the local market for electric vehicles.

View User Profile for Will Toor Will Toor serves as the Director of the Transportation Program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. He previously was a Boulder County Commissioner; Mayor of Boulder, Colorado; and chairman of the Denver Regional Council of Governments. He played a strong role in the development of the Boulder community transit network, EcoPass unlimited access transit pass, ClimateSmart Loan program and EnergySmart program.

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