You're going to provide the power to charge electric vehicles, so why not work with the folks selling the cars?
Dakota Electric Association is doing just that.
"We do dealership EV training. We inform the dealerships in and around our territory about our programs and the basics of EV charging in the home," said Stephanie Pederson, energy services representative at the Farmington, Minnesota-based co-op.
The first step is to meet with a dealership manager to broach the idea of training and then schedule it. When Pederson visits a dealer for an initial round, she focuses on making sure the sales staff can "get that member to look on our website, check out the rates and charge their car off-peak and get that reduced-rate electricity."
She described the second round of training as more technical.
"You're asking the dealership more questions about their cars to see what they know. We bring the EV expert from
Great River Energy, and he quizzes them on their own knowledge of the vehicles and then explains more about how to pit that vehicle that they're selling against other electric vehicles and against the internal combustion vehicles on the sales floor," said Pederson.
At every visit Pederson leaves business cards, and she recommended including a number where you can be reached nights and weekends—the peak times for car sales. She also puts rebate forms and program information sheets in the glove boxes of EVs on the lot, so members can look them over after a test drive. And she always brings food, which wins over the hearts of sales staff.
Efforts like these are important, because as Tom Laing, vice president of research and member insights at
TSE Services, noted, EVs are "here to stay."
The Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives 2017-2018 National Survey on the Cooperative Difference found that upward of 12 percent of members surveyed said it's very or somewhat likely that their next car will be either an EV or a plug-in hybrid.
"I know that may seem like a small number," said Laing. "But those numbers are already significant and will continue to grow."