Select Page

In news that will either seem like an injustice or schadenfreude depending on how you feel about the traditional dealership model, industry publication Automotive News, based on data from J.D. Power, reports that direct-sales operations like Tesla have exacted a large opportunity cost on California dealers — snatching $910 million in unrealized profit from them last year.

Divide that by the state’s 1,303 traditional dealerships, and the lost profit amounts to almost $700,000 per store. 

Tesla, Rivian and Lucid all sell direct to consumers, adding up to 12 percent market share in the state last year. 

Part of that wound is decidedly self-inflicted on the part of dealerships and establishment automakers. Their supply of electric vehicles is trickling out, meaning there isn’t much availability on car lots, as research by the Sierra Club demonstrated earlier this week. Two-thirds of dealerships contacted by the club didn’t have an EV on their lot, and in California where demand is high, supply was shown to be particularly low. Meanwhile, Tesla’s had no such supply constraint; the dealerships have driven some customers into Tesla’s arms.

How J.D. Power arrived at the $910 million estimate:

  • There were 193,707 new vehicle registrations in California involving Teslas, Lucids, and Rivians last year. (188K of those were Teslas.)
  • Franchised dealerships’ average gross profit per vehicle transaction last year was $4,700. (That’s what the brick-and-mortars could’ve made on these lost sales. Tesla’s per-unit profit is believed to be considerably more.)
  • Total: $910.4 million, give or take a few mil.

That’s how things are shaping up in the state where EVs are the hottest. Traditional dealers elsewhere may want to view this as a sign of trouble to come.

“Product rules this industry,” Brian Maas of the California New Car Dealers Association, told AN. “Dealers should be going to their OEMs and asking for product to beat Tesla.”

For a deeper dive, check out the full report in Automotive News (subscription required).

Share Us