Competition in the electric vehicle market is about to hit Motor City.
Phil Long Dealerships is opening an electric vehicle used car location in Motor City across from Tesla’s new showroom that opened in January, launching a competition between the electric vehicle giant and southern Colorado’s largest dealership group. The Phil Long EV Outlet opens Saturday at 1338 Motor City Drive, becoming the first dealership in southern Colorado to open a showroom dedicated to electric and hybrid vehicles.
The group has owned the property for more than 20 years, most recently using it as a clearance center for its Hyundai dealership, but the building was damaged by a landslide several years ago that required extensive repairs and reengineering of an adjacent retaining wall, said Kevin Shaughnessy, vice president of operations for Phil Long Dealerships. After completing the work, the company wanted to reopen the location.
“We didn’t need another used car lot, so we thought about opening a motor sports outlet, but EV sales are going to get better and better and there is no used car lot in Colorado Springs dedicated to electric and hybrid vehicles,” Shaughnessy said. “We expect there to be a proliferation of used electric vehicles over the next year or so, so we needed an outlet to sell those type of vehicles that we get as trade-ins.”
Sales of new electric and hybrid vehicles are booming, increasing 72.1% during the first quarter from the same period a year earlier, according to registration data compiled for the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. Sales of other vehicles declined 2.1% during the same period. Electric vehicles and hybrids make up 12.3% of the new vehicle market, up from 7.4% during the first quarter of 2020.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has an even more ambitious goal — increasing the number of electric vehicles on the state’s roads to 940,000 by 2030, or about 43% of vehicles sold. That goal is a major part of the first-term governor’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and 90% by 2050. Transportation, including passenger cars and trucks, is the nation’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The EV Outlet will be linked to Phil Long Kia, 1020 Motor City Drive, which will provide management, finance and service support for the location and the electric and hybrid vehicles it sells. Shaughnessy said the new dealership, the 17th in the Phil Long group, will focus on electric and hybrid vehicles that are 3 years old or less so they have plenty of battery life left before the battery will need to be replaced.
The location also will feature six to 10 electric vehicle charging stations that are expected to be installed in the next few months.
“Not everyone can afford to spend $100,000 on a brand-new electric vehicle but can afford to pay half of that or less on a pre-owned electric vehicle with a few miles on it,” said Peter Buckles, general manager of the EV Outlet and Phil Long Kia. “We are growing to meet customer demand for affordable electric vehicles. We will have everything from a 2013 Nissan Leaf for $7,995 to a nearly new BMW I-8 for more than $100,000.”
Buckles hopes to sell 250 vehicles at the new location in the first year. The EV Outlet will have an initial onsite inventory of 25 vehicles but will have access to the group’s entire electric vehicle and hybrid inventory, which totaled 48 on Tuesday; the lot can hold up to 100 vehicles. Buckles said the concept could expand to the Denver area if the Colorado Springs location becomes a hit with customers.
“About one in 15 buyers right now is looking for an electric, hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle, but demand is exceeding supply by at least a 2-to-1 ratio so there is plenty of room for growth,” Buckles said. “Sales of new electric and hybrid sales nationwide tripled last year and are expected to increase 70% this year. That growth could even accelerate with gas prices increasing this year to $3 a gallon and above.”
Opening the EV Outlet across from Tesla’s new showroom wasn’t entirely a coincidence, but the move isn’t intended to target the company either, Shaughnessy said.
“We love having them there. They sell only Teslas; we will sell all brands, including used Teslas,” he said. Much like the original concept of Motor City, the two locations create a one-stop shopping opportunity for consumers, he said.