Electric Cars Will Be Sold and Serviced Like Appliances, Thankfully

By · August 16, 2010

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Geek Squad

We're all going to drive geek-mobiles. Get over it.

Hardcore gearheads use the term “appliance” to put down electric cars. But those EV haters don’t realize that gas-powered racers have nothing on electric cars—loaded with low-end torque—when it comes to pure driving pleasure. Like it or not, in a world where computerized devices dominate our lives, it’s inevitable that cars will morph into high-tech mobility appliances.

That change is evident from how some electric cars will be sold and serviced. Migros, the Swiss retailer known mostly as a supermarket chain, last week announced a deal to sell Think City electric cars in more than 600 stores across the country. The battery-powered cars are part of the store’s new division called M-Way.

Best Buy, the electronics store, is talking with a number of manufacturing partners about selling electric cars. “We are very serious about the business," said Leo Raudys, the Best Buy senior director of environmental affairs. In April, he told MarketWatch, "Electric cars are basically computers on wheels. We expect to play a big part in it."

Best Buy is already testing the use of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car for use by its Geek Squad repair and installation staff. The Brammo Enertia electric motorcycle is among the electric-transport offerings at Best Buy. Also expect to see free electric car charging at Best Buy parking lots.

Costco has about 100 electric car charging stations at approximately 65 locations. Most of them were installed in California during the previous wave of electric cars. Costco had plans to sell a couple of less-than-fully-capable Chinese EV makers—but you could see how the Costco Auto Program could add more bona fide electric cars from new start-ups.

In June, Coda Automotive announced that it will contract with Firestone to have technicians trained to do warranty work at 75 Firestone retail locations. Kevin Czinger, Coda CEO, used the analogy of the "Genius Bar" at Apple retail stores.

Of course, Nissan, Chevy and Ford dealerships will be the main outlets for mass-market plug-ins. But let’s not forget that consumers consistently rank the interaction with car dealerships as the least desirable part of the car buying experience. In that light, ditching the car salesman in favor of an EV specialist at big box appliance outlet might become one of the best things about the EV revolution.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
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  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.