Two Buick dealerships in Wyoming have jumped ship rather than sell electric vehicles.
Denny Menholt Chevrolet GMC in Cody and Yellowstone Motors in Powell have confirmed buyouts from General Motors as opposed to making the necessary investments to sell the Buick brand’s upcoming line of battery-powered EVs.
“If they had kept a strong mixture of [internal combustion engines] and EVs like GMC and Chevrolet, we would have kept Buick,” said Bert Miller, general manager of the Cody dealership.
General Motors has announced it’s transitioning Buick to an all-electric brand by 2030.
Dealerships in Wyoming have increasingly found themselves grappling with the rapid roll out of EVs without sufficient demand to buy the vehicles in the Cowboy State, a factor in the two Buick dealerships tossing in the towel.
With fewer than 1,000 EVs with registered tags in Wyoming, pressure seems to be mounting to put the brakes on future EV sales in the Cowboy State.
Dealerships Speak Out
At last count, 17 auto dealerships that sell the pricey machines in Wyoming at an average price of $50,000 have added their signatures to an evergreening letter sent online to President Joe Biden that demands he “tap the brakes” on a proposed government electric vehicle mandate.
Biden’s rush-to-green agenda wants two-thirds of all new vehicles to be electric by 2032.
The letter to Biden states that there was once a lot of hope and hype about EVs.
“But that enthusiasm has stalled” because EVs are “not selling nearly as fast as they are arriving at our dealerships – even with deep price cuts, manufacturer incentives and generous government incentives,” the letter says.
“With each passing day, it becomes more apparent that this attempted electric vehicle mandate is unrealistic based on current and forecasted customer demand,” according to the letter.
“Already, electric vehicles are stacking up on our lots, which is our best indicator of customer demand in the marketplace,” the letter noted.
Not Ready For Prime Time
Some dealerships interviewed by Cowboy State Daily warned of possible blowback from electric vehicle manufacturers that have forced them to spend their own money to build expensive EV charging stations and the supporting service infrastructure at their franchises. Others blamed “the government” for pushing the automakers to do its bidding.
Travis Montague, general manager of Whisler Chevrolet in Rock Springs, Wyoming, said he’s one of the last holdouts in the state to turn a cold shoulder on EVs.
EVs are not ready for prime time, Montague said.
The franchise manager said that he couldn’t justify spending $500,000 on EV tools, a power charging system and new lift the for the EVs that weigh a few thousand pounds more than a gasoline car.
“I can’t justify spending that kind of money and not realize a return on my investment,” he said.
The sentiment was the same elsewhere in the state.
Dallas Tyrrell, who owns the Tyrrell Honda and Chevrolet dealerships on Cheyenne’s auto row along Westland Road, said that he just returned from Las Vegas where the largest gathering of automobile dealerships pushed back on the EV mandate.
“The feeling is that consumers should choose what they want to buy, not the government telling us,” Tyrrell said. “Every single conversation I had there touched on Buick dealerships shutting down,” he said.
Tyrrell has led some of the effort to get dealerships in Wyoming to add their names to the Biden letter.
Others to add their names included the Ken Garff-franchised dealerships for Ford in Cheyenne, Greiner Ford in Casper, Yellowstone Motors (which dropped Buick) and Floyd’s Truck Center in Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette and Rock Springs.
Wyoming A Blip Of Nationwide Blowback
Some of the dealerships reached for comment on the Biden letter were hesitant to speak out.
“I am not at liberty to talk about this,” wrote Travis Brown, general manager of Greiner Ford in an email to Cowboy State Daily.
Some dealership insiders spoke about the tension they face, but not for the record.
Generally, they expressed feeling pressure to pay for an EV infrastructure at their dealerships which accommodates a tiny population of EV buyers. If they don’t get on board with the plan, they fret big automakers might pull the plug on their franchise.
The dealerships argue that there just isn’t enough EV demand in Wyoming.
In fact, the state’s 17 dealerships to sign the letter show up as a blip on the list of nearly 4,863 who have signed the letter as of Monday.
That’s less than 1% of the total number of dealerships on the list. Few states had less than Wyoming’s.
West Virginia, which in its heyday decades ago once produced more coal than Wyoming, had seven dealerships sign on, while Vermont had 10.
EV sales in Wyoming may be at a crossroads.
The state wants to find a way to inject $24 million in federal money to jumpstart businesses to run a network of charging stations across the interstate system of highways though some have said the money may not be enough.
Meanwhile, big automakers and rental companies seem to be stepping back from EVs. Ironically, the crown jewel of the EV sector, Tesla, has warned of lower growth this year.
Hertz Global Holdings recently announced that it made the "strategic decision" to dump about one-third of its global EV fleet.
Also in recent weeks, Volvo cut off funding for its EV affiliate, Polestar, the electric-car maker it created with Volvo’s Chinese owner Geely Global.
Other big automakers to retrench include French automaker Renault, which plans to cancel a public offering of its electric-car unit Ampere, and Ford slashing production of its electric F-150 Lightning pickup.
Pat Maio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.