Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Electric cars start to gain some traction as dealerships sprout up

Alternative car dealers sell alternative power

Ecomotion is not a typical car dealership, reports the New York Times. First, there is the coffee shop just inside the front door. Second, the cars in the showroom are small and shaped a little funny. Some have only three wheels; one is available in a zebra print. All are powered by electric motors.

Ecomotion opened last September and has so far sold about 125 automobiles, including some used hybrids that are kept in a separate showroom. Ecomotion has become one of the top-selling electric vehicle dealerships in the country, selling cars from Zap and Myers Motors.

the ZENN 500 - Powerwheels for a grown-up?

There are now dozens of dealerships in the country selling electric vehicles, including those made by Zap, the Zenn Motor Company and Myers. Many dealerships sell models from several companies.

“Dealerships are what we need more than anything right now,” said Alex Campbell, a Zap spokesman. He said there were about 50 independent dealerships that sell its car, with the majority on the West Coast.

Don't laugh at me please - ZAP Automotive Marketing USA

Though there are E.V. dealerships around the country, many are taking advantage of the West Coast’s fusion of car culture and green sensibilities.

Alternative power once had the alternative lifestyle image of hippie owners driving odd vehicles. Many dealers said that buyers were now people concerned about the environment or Hollywood types looking for eco-cachet.

For celebrities looking to make a statement, Tesla promises that its E.V. sports car will hit the streets sometime this year. The first Tesla dealership is scheduled to open in Los Angeles, possibly in April.

The Tesla Roadster: Very cool - I want one!

Buying a car from an E.V. dealership is similar to buying from a traditional dealer. Many dealerships offer test drives and financing, and service the cars they sell. But there are also differences — they could actually try to talk you out of buying the car.

The dealers said they needed to make sure the car is right for the buyer. The sales staff has to explain that driving a limited number of miles at a limited speed is feasible for most people, but not for everyone. Drivers with highway, hilly or long commutes should buy something else.

The Myers NMG electric car. (this picture might become my icon on some automotive forum. Hmmmm maybe).


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