EV Q&A with Kelly Bachelder from KAR Auto Group in Decorah

Joel Zook, Energy Planner

KAR Auto group owns Decorah Auto Center (Ford and Lincoln), Decorah Chevrolet, Decorah Chrysler, and Albertson Auto Group (in Spillville).

A lot has happened over the past year with electric vehicles. Are we seeing national announcements of new models translating to local interest?

Yes, we’ve had lots of interest; we’ve had lots of reservations. The process is moving slowly from the manufacturing side as they ramp up production of these new vehicles. But people are calling at least daily to ask questions on EVs. We’ve had 30-40 reservations for new all-electric trucks – both the Ford Lightning and the Chevy Silverado EV. Most of those are the Ford Lightning since the Silverado announcement is fairly new. I expect we’ll see those continue to come in. 

Overall, what percent of your sales are EVs? 

Well, the manufactures are all-in on electric vehicles and are pushing to have EVs be 50% of their new sales by 2025. So far, we’re seeing EVs under 5% of our local sales but we expect to see fairly quick adoption over the next few years.  

Additionally, there is a lot of interest in hybrids and plug-in hybrids from our customers. I think that trend will continue even as all-electric vehicles take on more market share. For example, Ford is making a new small pickup, available as a hybrid – the Ford Maverick. It’s currently sold out for the 2022 production year as nationwide interest exceeded production capacity. We’ve seen a lot of interest in the Maverick locally as well. 

Tell us about the new Ford Lightning. I heard you made one of the first orders for yourself.

It really is an exciting truck with so many capabilities. We expect to have one on our lot as a demo vehicle sometime in the second quarter of 2022. 

Are you getting looks from businesses and others looking at fleet vehicle electrification?

Yes, people are looking at EV fleet vehicles. In addition to the electric pickups, Ford has announced fully electric Transit vans. We expect to have a few models on the lot that will be available to take a look at. 

Tell us about your trained EV technicians.

It was quite an investment to get our techs trained on the new EV models. There’s high voltage systems that aren’t present in a traditional gas or diesel vehicle. The process really is all different, and the training was new. Just about everything on the new cars is controlled through a laptop. Technicians had to train a lot of hours to be certified to service EVs. Their time was a big part of our investment, but we also had to invest in new, specialized tools, specialty tools as well as charging infrastructure we use in the shop. 

We can buy new or used EVs from you, yes?

Yes, any make, any model – we can find it for you. 

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