Plug In America’s PlugStar Program is nationally recognized for educating consumers and dealers, making it easy to shift to an EV. Since starting our PlugStar EV dealer training and certification program in 2018, we have trained thousands of dealer sales staff and hundreds of dealerships across the country. We recently conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the PlugStar Program.
Electric Vehicle (EV) targets are becoming more ambitious across the U.S. at federal, state, and local levels. In the state of California, there are ambitious goals for the future of EVs, targeting 1.5 million on the road by 2025 and 5 million by 2030. These targets are motivated by a number of factors, including greenhouse gas emissions targets, air quality targets, and domestic energy security. However, several significant barriers exist at the interface of EV buyers and sellers that hinder EV adoption. These include:
(1) Consumer barriers: Consumer awareness of the varying aspects and benefits of EV ownership, including EV fueling and incentives.
(2) Franchised automotive dealership barriers: Ongoing support in a rapidly changing EV ecosystem, confidence in selling a new technology, and alignment of automotive dealership incentives for selling EVs.
We observe that the combination of these factors has created, in effect, an “EV Sales Gap” hindering the uptake of EVs and the customer experience.
In 2016, Plug In America (PIA) developed the PlugStar Program to address these issues. PlugStar is an integrated consumer and dealership engagement program that includes an online EV information site that connects EV-educated consumers with EV-educated certified dealerships. They are supported through our turn-key dealership training and support program to grow EV sales.
PlugStar was the first program in the United States to recognize that multiple points of intervention, rather than consumer education or dealership training alone, would be needed to grow EV sales by franchised dealerships and the EV market as a whole. Since its introduction, the PlugStar Program has trained thousands of salespeople at hundreds of dealerships nationwide. PlugStar.com, PIA’s consumer EV shopping tool featuring PlugStar trained dealerships, has been visited over 500,000 times since launching in 2018.
This report focuses on PlugStar Program impacts at 19 participating dealerships in the Sacramento metro region from August 2018 through March 2020. During this period, PlugStar delivered the following results:
In addition, this analysis finds that if the PlugStar Program were in effect throughout the state of California, it could contribute to an additional 80,000–110,000 EV sales over the next five years, helping close almost 10% of the remaining sales gap to meet California’s 2025 EV target. This increase in EV sales is driven by direct benefits of higher EV competence and confidence among sales staff and is likely to be even larger when considering the network effects of improved customer experience. Though it would require significant work to scale the program statewide in California, this report outlines the potential California-level impacts to provide an example of how a program that reduces barriers to both EV consumers and dealerships, while also connecting the two, can be significantly helpful in increasing EV uptake. The following sections provide more detail on the PlugStar Program and its impacts.