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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Brad Brotherton: Car dealers make the Evergreen State even greener

By Brad Brotherton

By Brad Brotherton

What if I told you that the auto dealers of Washington state are on the front lines in the fight against climate change? I wouldn’t blame you if you did a double take. But I’d ask you to hear me out – to let me make the sale.

Local dealerships have embraced electric vehicles as products we’re proud to sell. Fifteen years ago, that wasn’t the case. In their early days, electric vehicles were questionable in terms of quality and, for most consumers, value. Manufacturers mainly built them to satisfy government mandates, not customer desires. EVs didn’t have the range or power that most customers needed, and charging infrastructure was in its infancy.

Everyone liked the idea of electric cars. But the early products were only worth the daunting expense to a sliver of the market. They were, in many ways, a luxury.

EVs have evolved. Today, they’re sleek and powerful. They can traverse the same long distances as most gas-fueled cars. And local dealerships have embraced them. Why wouldn’t we? We’re in the business of selling cars, not sticking to a hidebound idea of what a car should be.

If it looks like a car, runs like a car, and is cherished as a car by American consumers, we’ll sell as many as we can.

Washington is proud to be a national leader in EV sales. Today, there are more electric vehicles registered in Washington than in all but Texas, Florida, and California. One out of every 25 cars on our roads is electric.

To reach Olympia’s laudable decarbonization goals, a million electric vehicles must be registered by 2030 and two million by 2035. Washington’s auto dealers are eager to do their duty as corporate citizens to help work toward those goals. And so we’ll sell EVs.

Some have suggested changing state laws to bypass dealerships and allow manufacturers to sell direct to consumers. This is a mistake. The best way to meet government targets for deploying electric vehicles is by utilizing the dealership network, not scrapping it.

There are 16,600 franchise car dealerships in America – and more than 300 in Washington alone. These local dealerships provide sales, professional and certified service, trade-ins, titling, and registration to consumers all over the state. They give consumers the ability to service their cars locally – instead of driving for hours to a central service station.

They also provide good-paying jobs to more than a million people nationwide, including more than 40,000 in Washington. Further, local dealerships offer a pathway to a management career to anyone willing to work hard – no four-year college degree required.

Buying from a dealer isn’t like buying from a distant manufacturer. Instead of 1-800 numbers we offer a human touch. Many dealerships are rooted in their communities – and have been for generations.

Like a house or an apartment, a car is one of the biggest purchases an American makes. We want our customers to keep coming back.

As the EV revolution gathers speed, our teams are all going to become “green” businesses. Cadillac dealers across the United States have already started making the necessary investments to become EV-certified.

Customers are enthusiastic. Cadillac sold out of the debut edition of its Lyriq EV, which will be distributed through local dealerships, in 19 minutes. Our family of dealerships has taken four years’ worth of orders for GMC’s Hummer EV. We’re just waiting for the cars to arrive.

Examples like these point to a future of high demand, fierce competition, and dealership-driven service for electric vehicles.

Local dealerships have taken care of buyers, owners, and sellers of internal combustion engine cars for decades. We’re going to do the same for EVs, too.

Brad Brotherton is the owner of Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC in Renton.