“The model in general to cut out the franchisee is a scary thing,” said Evelyn Sames, COO of Sames Auto Group in Laredo, Texas. “Our state has some great legislation protecting franchise dealers, and I think that’s really important.”

But the rise of EVs and EV-only automakers is real, and the pressure to ease direct-sales limitations will likely continue. In truck-heavy South Texas, significant EV adoption is far from imminent, Sames said, but her group still is working to install the architecture to support those sales. She added that she wished certain automakers were allowing more time for the rollout of electric charging stations, for example, given that dealerships aren’t close to experiencing a return on those investments.

With potential changes from new challengers on the horizon, dealers must be sure they are looking for ways to improve their operations today, panelists said.



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