Preparing dealerships for an EV era

Dealerfloor asked the Chairman of the Legacy Motor Group, Mpho Dipela, about the implementation of an electric future at dealership level and how they are preparing for it at LMG.

Mpho Dipela

The company’s motor trading division represents five BMW dealerships (BMW Menlyn, BMW Montana, BMW Joburg City, BMW Rustenburg and BMW Polokwane) and three MINI dealerships (MINI Menlyn, MINI Montana and MINI Joburg City).

Q: Seeing that LMG’s brands are BMW and Mini, all brands at the forefront of the EV onslaught, how do you or LMG predict that dealerships will physically change with an increase in EV sales and products in the near future?

A: EVs inherently require less mechanical servicing compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, which will lower pressure on workshops in the future. Dealers will be required to repurpose existing workshop space to facilitate EV-servicing requirements. Additionally, technical staff working on EVs require special qualifications to service EV vehicles.

Q: Is LMG already preparing for a more and eventually all electric future and what do these changes entail at this stage?

A: Dealers working closely with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are taking steps to upskill their workforce. Dealers are also on the frontline in testing various battery-charging solutions, which include developing working payment solutions to be rolled out to the public. EVs also require investment in specialised equipment that are key in the servicing of EV vehicles. LMG is gradually taking steps to be EV ready across all its dealerships.

Q: Are South African dealerships keeping pace with the changes in this regard?

A: South African dealerships will be required to keep up with this rapidly advancing technology, especially considering that emission regulations are driving industry-wide OEM transformation at a rapid pace. It is projected that one in three vehicles sold will have some level of electrification by 2025.

For this reason, new dealerships are being modified to accommodate fewer workshop visits per EV, and the implementation of advanced employee training programmes and the procurement of specialised equipment are being accelerated.

Q: How easy or difficult is it at this stage to sell an EV to a customer? What is a customer’s biggest worry about EVs?

A: EV sales are currently more popular among customers who are environmentally conscious and aware of lower long-term cost of EVs as compared to ICEs. The main obstacle for most consumers is the initial investment outlay of acquiring an EV as opposed to an ICE. But, measuring cost over the long term, EVs are much less expensive. To help decrease the price premium issue, the industry is currently lobbying for government to review, rectify and modify current EV taxation and import tariff regulations.

Another prevailing concern is that battery ranges are relatively short. In truth, a modern EV can easily travel 600 km on a single charge. As EVs become more popular and technologically advanced, more charging stations will become available across the country and battery ranges will be extended. In establishing a countrywide network of charging stations, a whole range of business and employment opportunities will be created.

Finally, battery manufacturers are working to reach 80% battery capacity charging times of no more than 30 minutes., which should help ease concerns for the average consumer.

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