Australian car dealers have been told to diversify as consumer demands change, with the growing popularity of electric vehicles altering how businesses operate.
The next step for dealers – especially those selling EVs – could mean branching out into at-home solutions for buyers, with solar panels and battery packs potentially becoming the next up-sell items for consumers.
Speaking at the Australian Automotive Dealer Association’s Convention and Expo in Brisbane, Deloitte motor industry services director Andrew Moore said dealers need to be better educated to deal with EV-related topics, such as off-the-grid solutions, with a number of EVs featuring Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) – which can be used to put their charge back into the home.
“A lot of consumers are walking into dealerships, asking a lot of questions about EVs and the dealers that aren’t selling EVs probably struggle with those answers,” said Moore.
“I think there’s an opportunity to educate dealers, more particularly sales staff and technicians, for the future to start to own that ecosystem a little bit.
“Perhaps the car dealership of the future is more about solar panels, charging stations, putting that all together – what you link in from a grid point of view. So perhaps there’s opportunities for dealers to own segments that they never had before, because previously it was just a car; now it’s a car plus a mobile battery plus an energy source.”
While Moore acknowledges the difficulty in preparing workshops for EVs, he reiterated the importance for educated dealers through his background as a director at both Suzuki Australia and Renault.
“Obviously there are challenges around setting up the workshop for EVs, so dealers are investing in that,” Moore added.
“My observation more from an OEM perspective is that the dealers which had a good flow of EV customers were able to become experts and start to talk about the infrastructure.”
Volkswagen Group Australia’s Managing Director, Paul Sansom, believes the V2G technology will be “a game changer”, with the prospect of the Group’s technicians expanding to service more than just vehicles presenting itself as an exciting challenge.
“This is the game changer for Australia, for everywhere, when the car does become the solar-powered source of battery storage,” said Sansom.
“When you’ve created your own home, your own ecosystem it’s great for you personally, and it’s great for the grid, it’s great for the environment.
“Our mechanics, who work on these highly sophisticated products, are trained and we’re ready. The beauty of being a group is that everything we learn in Audi [with E-Tron], we’re now rolling out across the rest of our group brands for training purposes.
“We’ve invested in a new training facility in Melbourne to ensure that we’ve got the right facilities because it’s different to train a technician for an electric vehicle. So we’re ready, but it’s actually taking it a step further and thinking what’s beyond just servicing the electric vehicle.”