We'll soon find out. In the US Mitsubishi i-MiEVs are about to be sold by GeekSquad at Best Buy which is like the UK’s PC World with Tesco rolled in. And it’s not such a daft idea when you think about it.
Here’s what convinced me that it’s the right way to go. Last Friday the Wall Street Journal reported “We are very serious about the business,” said Leo Raudys, senior director of environmental affairs at Best Buy Co. Inc. “Electric cars are basically computers on wheels. We expect to play a big part in it.” And I’m sure they will as they’ve been selling electric bikes since 2009 according to Autobloggreen.
It’s clear that this guy at Best Buy totally gets the electric car thing - he's so on the button saying they're more like computers than cars, so he's going to sell them the same way.
While some people in the auto industry might argue that EVs with all their new-fangled technology are really cars for geeks, Best Buy is taking the view that the geeky approach is the best way to sell them. After all, Best Buy is a multinational retailer of technology and entertainment products and services with operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, China and Mexico, so it's clearly doing something right and I’m ready to pay attention.
The motto on its website reads “We Make Technology Deliver On Its Promises.” Best Buy has a market share of 21% at home and has differentiated itself in a crowded market by creating relaxed stores where its blueshirted geeks soothe customers out of their "techno stress". Blueshirts have won the loyalty of American shoppers as they actually encourage their customers to spend less as well as more, if the product better suits their needs.
Tesco is bracing itself for the UK launch of Best Buy next week with its first British store at the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex by recruiting 1,000 additional employees for its electricals departments. Tesco’s aim is to copy the customer service model offered by Best Buy's "blueshirts", with plans to roll out its own "tech team" service to advise customers on gadgets and technology.
According to the Guardian interest in the US retailer has been stoked by an advertising campaign in which it has promised not only to match rival retailers' prices but also to give an extra 10% off the difference. A spokeswoman said it had received a "high level of interest" from consumers ahead of the opening. <-- I'll bet!
So if you can buy an electric bike from a supermarket, why not an electric car? I clearly remember in 2002 when I used to drive a Think EV that it behaved more like a computer than a car. On the odd occasion when it acted up, all you had to do was re-start it like re-booting for the problem to miraculously disappear. And now that many EVs have internet connectivity you can download all sorts of features and updates directly to your vehicle, so maybe it makes more sense to have geeks selling them than car salesmen.