Early this AM I received an email from Chelsea Sexton announcing an article -- one I consider both timely and of potentially pivotal importance -- just posted at her blog on this topic.* (For those who don't know her, Chelsea was on the 16-member Volt Consumer Advisory Board; she is among the world's best-known and most articulate EV advocates, one who has so far dedicated close to half her life to the cause of plug-in EVs.)
As the car-buying public becomes more aware of the huge advantages of EVs, and of the Volt in particular, most observers believe the demand will grow -- perhaps exponentially. And many believe that the demand will likely exceed supply, at least for the next few years. Mid-east upheavals, political instabilities and ensuing oil price increases may additionally unbalance the EV supply/demand ratio. And this may very well exacerbate EV market conditions, further encouraging dealer price gouging (or "surcharges") that are already beginning to emerge.
Chelsea says, "Price gouging on the Chevy Volt has been big news again lately, with the story of a Florida dealer marking one up by over 60%. There are all sorts of positions on this behavior. I acknowledge the dealer’s right to charge what the market will bear, even as I think GM should have done a better job of heading this off at the pass. For its part, GM maintains that with franchise laws there’s nothing they can do about it. Marketing chief Joel Ewanick insisted in a conversation we (Ewanick-Sexton) had last July both that it’s not preventable,** and that my concern was overblown, since none of their dealers would engage in the practice. The next day, the first story broke of a dealer charging an extra $20k for a Volt."
She continues, "So what if instead, we use these incentives as a tool to help curb price-gouging? As I mentioned briefly a few weeks ago, any state or federal financial incentives should be conditional on the vehicle selling at or below MSRP. This doesn’t mean that dealers can’t still charge over sticker. They absolutely could, and customers who are willing to pay that price (and forgo the incentive) to get the first car on the block can do so. But taxpayer funding would no longer enable these transactions."
And adds, "While we’re at it, we need to at least consider other reforms. It makes most sense to do this as part of the current effort to switch the credit to a rebate available at time of purchase, rather than re-open the issue later."*
I'm taking the liberty of re-posting these key arguments of her much more detailed article here in the hope that gm-volt.com's wide readership -- and the consistent attention it garners from GM executives -- might help advance the cause of reforming price-gouging/surcharging while also switching the federal and state tax rebates to rebates at time-of-sale, by contributing our member's thoughts to this very worthy effort.
**I've bought two new Saturn vehicles from two different dealers, in part because I liked the Saturn "no-haggle" policy, a cornerstone of their success and a nation-wide example of how dealer surcharges WERE PREVENTABLE!