Ottawa EV Day is taking place today from 11:00 to 4:00 on Sparks Street, and a new Canadian-based company called EVEN Electric has announced a major change to how electric vehicles might be distributed and purchased.
EVEN Electric chose a venue in Ottawa last night to announce its intention to launch the first global sales and distribution network for electric vehicles, eschewing dealerships and selling multiple brands of new and pre-owned vehicles directly to consumers through a new unified retail and online customer experience.
While EVEN will be headquartered in Toronto, its model has been validated through the launch of an EVEN store in Iceland in 2015, and the company’s third partner runs an electric vehicle dealership, Green Rock E.V.S., in Newfoundland.
By innovating a much less capital intensive and more efficient version of how current car dealerships operate, EVEN will be able to deliver an electric vehicle either to its nearest customer centre or directly to a purchaser’s driveway.
“Moving from dealership to dealership to shop one car at a time is simply an outdated process. EVEN has created an entirely new distribution model – one that is enabled by technology to offer customers an unprecedented level of choice and convenience,” said John Gordon, EVEN’s COO. “At the same time, EVEN will significantly lower costs across the entire supply chain by optimizing the flow of EVs directly to the global markets when and where they’re needed.”
EVEN CEO and co-founder Mike Elwood is also co-founder of Electric Mobility Canada, a membership-based organization dedicated to the promotion of electric vehicles in Canada.
“The traditional dealership model has proven unable to deliver the sales and service experience that EV owners want and need,” said Elwood. “Our EVEN model was developed to combine the best aspects of both an on-line and in-store retail experience to make it easy for EV customers to find and acquire exactly what they want, when and where they want it.”
Unable or unwilling, according to a recent Sierra Club report called “Multi-state Study of the Electric Vehicle Buying Experience”, which found that of 308 dealerships surveyed in states mandating zero-emissions vehicle sales, dealerships frequently didn’t have electric vehicles on the lot, or if they did that 42% of them were either not displayed prominently or were only “somewhat prominently displayed.”
Fourteen per cent of respondents who asked a dealer for a test drive were told that the vehicle was not sufficiently charged, while a third reported that salespeople didn’t bother mentioning any federal or state tax credits and rebates that would have reduced the cost of the vehicle.
In Ontario, non-profit electric-vehicle advocacy group Plug’n Drive hired a firm that sent 20 mystery shoppers into 24 EV-certified dealerships in February 2014, finding that dealerships were frequently giving out incorrect information regarding costs, benefits and vehicle subsidies.
So when Elwood says that the traditional dealership model is not working to promote electric vehicles, he’s not just talking about pragmatic issues, he’s referring to a status quo mentality.
Elwood’s two other partners are EVEN chairman and founder Gisli Gislason, also founder of the Northern Lights Energy Holding and Icelandic Holding Company, and EVEN COO and co-founder John Gordon, operator of Canada’s first 100% multi-brand electric vehicle dealership and service centre, Green Rock E.V.S. in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, opened in 2013.
“You can’t find a more dedicated or experienced team anywhere, because there’s nobody who’s been more directly involved with and committed to EV commercialization than the team we’ve assembled,” said Gislason. “That includes our Advisory Board which is second to none in the EV industry.”
EVEN is in advanced discussions to develop their network in Canada, Norway, Panama, Ireland, Belgium, the U.K. and others.
“EV infrastructure is improving, political will is changing, incentives continue and lifecycle ownership costs of an EV are one tenth of an ICE,” said Gislason. “That makes the whole EV ownership process more accessible, more desirable and more fun.”
In the first half of 2016, 4,288 electric cars were sold in Canada, a 54% jump compared with the first half of 2015, according to FleetCarma.
In June 2016 alone, 1,078 EVs were sold, marking the first time Canada surpassed 1,000 EV sales in a single month.
Chevy’s redesigned Volt sold 1,677 units through July in Canada.
Electric vehicle sales still represent a small fraction of overall vehicle sales in Canada, but with the introduction of EVEN Electric and an improving infrastructure for electric vehicles the situation is set to improve.