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Dealers Assess the Impact Electric Vehicles Will Have on the Market

Dealers Assess the Impact Electric Vehicles Will Have on the Market

By Christopher South

A 2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric vehicle. The Mach-E, according to the manufacturer, will go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
Christopher South
A 2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric vehicle. The Mach-E, according to the manufacturer, will go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

COURT HOUSE – Local car dealerships and the manufacturers of their vehicles will have to adapt to a rule adopted by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration that eventually requires all new cars sold in New Jersey to be electric vehicles, sometimes called zero-emission vehicles.

Under the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, beginning with cars manufactured in 2027, 43% of new cars sold in the state must be electric. By 2035, all new cars sold must be electric.

How does that affect the local car sales market?

Fran Adelizzi, the general sales manager at the Kindle Auto Plaza, said it will be a major exercise in adaptation in the auto sales business, but not an obstacle. Car dealerships adjust to trends and changes and availability in vehicles all the time, he said.

Auto manufacturers deal with shortages or production problems that occur for various reasons, including a shortage of computer chips, which was mostly over by July 2023, and to labor stoppages, such as the United Auto Workers strike from mid-September to the end of October 2023.

Adelizzi said his operation didn’t get half the trucks ordered for 2023. Transit vans were also hard to get.

“We are getting some of the vehicles we ordered a year ago,” he said. “A lot of the vehicles we want, vehicles we need, are still hard to get.”

It is hard to predict what the supply of new vehicles will be like a dozen years in the future, but it seems obvious that electric vehicles will have an increasingly significant place in that market.

About a year ago, Kindle received what Adelizzi said was the full allotment of electric vehicles for the Philadelphia region.

He said Kindle took the entire allocation of about 140 vehicles, thinking it could sell the vehicles to other dealers if need be. The allocation, he said, included a lot of Mustang Mach-Es, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

“People were buying them from all over the country,” he said.

He also said a lot of electric Fusions were sold: “Ford was offering a great deal with low payments.”

Adelizzi said the infrastructure is growing around electric vehicles. Dealerships are putting in charging stations; police departments are adding electric vehicles to their fleets.

“If you are staying locally, it makes sense,” he said.

He said having an electric car is a lot like owning a golf cart.

“Recharging is like getting gas, but people don’t have it mentally, yet. It’s tough to talk people into a specific mindset,” he said.

Adelizzi said he still likes the sound of a gas-powered engine but admits he will probably own an electric vehicle somewhere down the road. He said technology is the mandate, so everyone will have to deal with it, and while no one knows exactly what is going to happen, it seems the landscape of automobile sales is changing. He said Ford plans to have 27% of its sales in electric vehicles in 2024, and in the second half of the year Ford and Tesla will use the same chargers.

Paul Gentilini, of Gentilini Ford, said the impacts of the governor’s mandate will be felt by the consumer more than anyone else.

“It’s forcing the consumer to buy what the government wants them to buy,” he said. “That is where the pushback will be. Why force them to buy these vehicles? Where is the choice for the consumer?”

Ray Cantor, chief government affairs officer with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said in an interview posted on the group’s website that under the Advanced Clean Cars II rule consumers might not even be able to afford automobiles.

“Low- and moderate-income, seniors, students won’t be able to afford cars,” Cantor said. “Gas-powered cars will go up as well. That will affect (consumers’) livelihood.”

Gentilini said it’s still early in the development of electric vehicles. He compared the situation to buying a plasma TV 10 years ago. He said that, side by side, electric cars today are more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. The Mach-E, for example, starts at $43,390.

Gentilini said that as time goes on technology gets better and cars become less expensive. He said what is driving the cost of electric cars is batteries, specifically the cost of sourcing the minerals used in batteries. All the rest of the vehicle, he said, is the same as gas-powered vehicles.

“Internal combustion engines are essentially all metal, which is easily sourced,” he said. “Lithium is not so easily sourced, and is there enough material to get to mass volume?”

Gentilini believes there is a place in the market for electric vehicles, but he doesn’t agree with forcing people to buy electric. That said, he added that today’s vehicles are already highly reliant on electric components. He said there has been a lot of electric technology going into vehicles over the last 10 to 20 years, and vehicles are not as mechanically based as they used to be.

His service department has been investing in training on electrical components for years. He said that with the onset of electric vehicles there has been an emphasis on safety and safely disengaging batteries. He said, as dealers, part of the agreement with manufacturers is to train crews to work on the vehicles they produce. The high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles can be dangerous to someone not trained to work with them.

Gentilini said there has been consumer interest in electric vehicles.

“Everyone likes the vehicle,” he said. “They are fun to drive, they have instant power, and people are enjoying that. The handling is a little better because the center of gravity is lower.”

He said the Mach-E is responsive and fun to drive, comfortable and quiet.

Ford has also had a fully electric F-150 that has been in production since the spring of 2022.

Gentilini said there have been a handful of complaints about electric vehicles, mainly about the expected range on a charge. He said in cold climates, when the car’s heat is turned on, it considerably reduces the range the vehicle will get. He feels customer knowledge of and demand for the product should drive the market rather than an executive order from the government.

Adelizzi said that for those who can’t accept the quiet of the electric vehicle and who enjoy the rumble of a gas-powered motor, there are companies such as Borla, which is now selling an aftermarket “active performance sound system” for electric vehicles.

For $1,600, this speaker set-up mounts underneath the rear of a vehicle and connects to the vehicle’s system to mimic the sounds a gasoline engine.

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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