Dealer Spotlight:

Bill Jacobs Autosports: What we’ve learned by entering the pre-owned EV market

Several years ago, Trip Jacobs, a fourth-generation leader at Bill Jacobs Motorsports, abided by the family’s rule to work outside the company for two years. He expected this to generate a better perspective on the auto business but what he and others didn’t expect was that the ideas he brought back after working at Tesla would be a game-changer.

About one in 10 new cars sold last year around the world was electric. But experts agree that to truly graduate from just a luxury item, EVs must increase their presence in the used car market.

Trip, today Bill Jacobs Motorsports Director of Strategic Planning, recommended the company create a new division specializing in sales of pre-owned EVs. Management agreed and he established Current Automotive in 2018 which became the nation’s first online-focused, pre-owned electric vehicle retailer. Then and now, it champions sustainable transportation and helps people make the switch with a one-price, no-pressure experience. Today it employs seven people.

“I realized that dealers and electric manufacturers didn’t understand each other, and we had to find a happy medium to be successful,” Jacobs explains. “Current is really a kind of experiment for how our company does business and has been a benefit for the entire group.”

According to Jason Puga, Bill Jacobs Motorsports CEO, one of Current’s learning take-aways is its ability to create a simple sales solution. “By educating our salespeople and customers, we have been able to make a car deal in two hours or less,” Puga explains. “We can ease range anxiety and explain charging options, service procedures, and software. We really serve more as consultants.”

Many Current Automotive customers, like most EV buyers, never step foot in the store. They start their sales journey online and continue it at the dealership or digitally. “Our customers are very educated and have done their research,” Trip explains. “We have had to re-learn how to sell a vehicle.”

99 percent of Current’s inventory is one to two years old with low mileage. Today, like traditional pre-owned auto dealerships, Current is increasingly challenged with finding quality inventory. However, as EVs are on the market longer, it expects to offer more and more vehicles.

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