How EV Leasing Can Drive Consumer Acceptance with Matthew Haiken

June 14, 2024
Matthew Haiken, Dealer Principal and President at Prestige Collection Auto Group, shares his insights into the evolving EV market.
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In this ASOTU CON 2024 session, hosted by Elena Ciccotelli from the "EVs for Everyone" podcast, Matthew Haiken, Dealer Principal and President at Prestige Collection Auto Group, shares his insights into the evolving EV market. Matthew recounts his journey with Polestar, highlighting his competitive nature and desire to build something from the ground up. He also celebrates his recent achievement of winning the 2024 Volvo Hyatt Excellence Award.

The discussion covers various aspects of the EV market, including the current trend of competitive leasing prices and the importance of getting customers to experience EVs firsthand. Matthew addresses challenges and surprises in fixed operations for EVs, debunking the myth that EVs are less profitable for dealers. He emphasizes the entrepreneurial spirit of dealers and reflects on the impact of the EV tax credit, drawing comparisons to the Cash for Clunkers program. The session offers valuable insights into the practical realities and future potential of the EV market.

0:00 Intro

0:54 Matthew shares his EV journey with Polestar.

2:15 Matthew’s competitive nature in becoming a Polestar dealer.

4:06 Leasing EVs at competitive prices and customer acceptance.

5:27 Challenges and surprises in fixed operations for EVs.

7:13 The importance of experiencing EV driving dynamics.

8:40 The narrative around EV profitability and dealer margins.

9:25 Entrepreneurial spirit and adapting to the EV market.

10:34 Reflections on the EV tax credit and Cash for Clunkers.

Thanks to Effectv for making this episode of ASOTU CON Sessions possible! Learn more about Effect here:

Unknown: 0:02

You're listening to the asotu con sessions by Effectv live from asotu con 2024

Elena Ciccotelli: 0:09

All right, this is Elena cicatelli for the very last time, and I'm here on the asotu con podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv TV. And I have here the legendary Matthew Haiken dealer, principal and President at prestige collection Auto Group. Matthew, how are you this afternoon? Doing

Matthew Haiken: 0:30

great. Thank you so much for having me. Thank

Elena Ciccotelli: 0:32

you for being here. Thank you for lending your expertise and your real world knowledge. I'm ready for some, some EV knowledge to be, to be dropped on us. Amazing. I'm ready. So walk us through a little bit more about your story and your automotive retail journey. The cliff notes version, if you would.

Matthew Haiken: 0:54

I'm gonna spin it. Let's do it. That's, that's a long story, okay, but I'm gonna tell you my EV journey. I love it. Let's see. So I'm a pole star dealer, yes, which is an amazing, amazing Swedish EV brand, yes. And they were born out of the same company as Volvo cars. So they wanted to enter the market here in the US, and they only wanted a select few spaces, so they went out to the entire network of Volvo dealers, and we all applied and went through a lot of competition to get chosen. And I was lucky to get chosen for a space in Short Hills, New Jersey, which is at the mall at Short Hills, we're right outside New York City, and we've been there for three years, and it's been quite a journey.

Elena Ciccotelli: 1:51

Yes, well, shout out New Jersey. I'm also from Jersey. Okay, I'm in, I'm in the South Jersey part, so don't, don't hold that against me. It's all good. It'll be okay. It's all good. We're still friends. Yes, okay, good. So talk me through when the initial ask for Polestar. Like, were you eagerly raising your hand for Polestar? Or were you like, this was like, kind of a strategic, calculating, no,

Matthew Haiken: 2:15

I'm competitive by nature. If there's a there's a competition and they're only going to pick one person. Like, I wanted to be me, right? No, good, bad or indifferent. It could have been something bad, but, you know, I wanted to get in, in a brand build something from the ground floor. Good, bad, indifferent. I knew it was going to be challenging, but I wanted to say, Hey, I was one of the first dealers, and look what we built. So, yeah, I was, I was totally you

Elena Ciccotelli: 2:41

were totally for you were gung And then the other piece of that is the news that you just recently won an award for Volvo. Wasn't it the 2024 Volvo Hyatt excellence award for being excellent. Well, congratulations. Round of applause for Matthew For winning that award. So one

Matthew Haiken: 3:03

of my favorite sayings is, plaques are up or profits are down. So yeah, so we appreciate the awards.

Elena Ciccotelli: 3:09

So so talk me through when you have a customer coming in and maybe they're they're not sure if an EV is right for them. Are you talking through some of the use cases that this person has for a vehicle, like, walk me through? I

Matthew Haiken: 3:27

mean, right now we're going through such an interesting time, yeah, where Toyota's are $99 a month. TVs, Lexus is 199. Pole stars 299. Lyrics are 399. Lucids are 499, rivians are 599, so now it's all about leasing EVs, the payment shopper. There's not much, is it? For me, people are getting the cars because of the perceived value, and there's just so much value. As a dealer, we need to take it and run with it, because I don't know how sustainable it is for the long term. And and you'll hear dealers that are skeptics, that say, you know How sustainable is. Who cares? EVs are on sale. I'm going to sell them. I've got them. And at a value proposition, anyone will consider an EV,

Elena Ciccotelli: 4:18

yeah, and so, and I love that point, because it's like, if the payment is right, then yeah, we can figure this out. So are you seeing any customers coming in and be like, Yeah, but I don't have level two at my house or Yeah, but are you running into any of that

Matthew Haiken: 4:35

sometimes, but they figure it out. I mean, I think the biggest challenge is people that live in maybe a multi family home, and they rent a room, and there's just physically no charging, right? But if they're if they're vertically living, if they live in an apartment, if they live in a condo, if they live in a home, then it's definitely doable. Then it's definitely doable for the right payment, they will, they'll take it, they'll figure it out. They'll stop on. The way to DC from New York and grab a coffee for

Elena Ciccotelli: 5:02

the right payment. Then they will figure it out. So let's, let's dive into what you're seeing, not not so much on the affordability side, but let's maybe talk more on the fixed ops side. If we can switch gears a little bit here. Anything different, anything that kind of comes to mind, that's maybe surprising that you weren't

Matthew Haiken: 5:27

expecting. I think the manufacturers have, you know, they've kind of scared the network saying EVs need less service. There's less profit opportunities for EVs. We need to think differently. But at the end of the day, things break. People get into accidents. And as dealers, we're pretty resilient, and we find a way. So it's been a lot better than expected. And I think you'll see that as as more units get on the road, you'll see the narrative that EVs are not as profitable, so we need to find other ways and fixtops, I think you'll see that narrative go away. Are

Elena Ciccotelli: 6:07

going away, yeah, and and so again, I'm going to reference one of the interviews that I did earlier today, and it was with Ed Roberts from Bozar Ford Lincoln, and again, we were talking about butts in seats, butts and seats, right? So is that your experience in getting people to experience the car on the sales side? What are, what are you saying?

Matthew Haiken: 6:33

You you can't just talk about the driving dynamics, like the driving Yeah, you have to, you, you know, there's, there's a lot of people that get nauseous. There's, there's pets that get nauseous in the back seat of are you talking about? My dog is going to get nauseous? It could really, yeah, all the time. It's a thing. People get nauseated sitting in the back seat of an EP. I mean, they need to feel that. But like the instant torque, the one pedal, driving, the driving dynamics, and then, just like the reviews of some of the self driving that's out there now is just bananas. So you once you scale, you might need to rethink how you demonstrate these cars. Yeah,

Elena Ciccotelli: 7:13

and I think, you know, a lot of the fear and uncertainty maybe comes from the fact that there's maybe not a ton of people at the store level that want to talk about EV, because maybe the elephant in the room is that I don't make that much money on an EV, so I don't really care about it. So what's

Matthew Haiken: 7:32

it just? It's just, it's crazy. It's crazy. It's a normalized market right now. So, you know, the money you make is the money you make every car you're making the same money. It's a car. Go sell it. Go tell the customer. Make a friend. Bring me a deal. It's, I hear it all the time. It's just, it's insane.

Elena Ciccotelli: 7:51

So yeah, I It's so funny that like just hearing your perspective, and hearing just your experience with this, versus totally different perspective, saying, like, again, it's hurting my margins and but then I've also heard at the same time, it's this, you know, from you have this whole product line, right? You have various degrees of profit margin on various different models, right? So a lot of dealers are saying, well, it's no different than if you were, you know, had a truck specialist, or, you know, you had a, you have an EV specialist. So it's so interesting to me that you're, you have this perspective. I mean, I personally love, yeah,

Matthew Haiken: 8:40

I mean, but I don't think it's all our fault. I think the manufacturers created this narrative that EVs are different, and we're going to use it as a crutch to upgrade your facility or upgrade your charging network and change your margin structure. And that's just, we're going to look back at that and be like, That's ridiculous. Like, why did you change my margin truck on an EV a car is a car, and I think all of that in time will be backtracked, will

Elena Ciccotelli: 9:04

be, yeah, interesting. No, it's interesting, I think so. What has surprised you in this EV market? You're obviously like, going great guns with Polestar. You know you're killing it with Volvo. What has maybe surprised you in this in this past year? No,

Matthew Haiken: 9:25

I get surprised all the time. I still, I'm shocked that, you know, there's certain dealers, and dealers are the greatest people on earth and the greatest entrepreneurs. And it's like, it's a principal thing. It's like, I'm not gonna do it because I don't want to be forced to do it. And I totally get that, and I respect that. But at the same time, we're entrepreneurs, and I tell people all the time, like, I'll sell a bike, I'll sell a motorcycle, I'll sell a car, and you want to trade anything, sure, I'll take in your motorcycle. I love tradings. We're going to make more money. So that's just shocking, you know, like, and I get it and and. And talking about the tax credits and UCBs, that is huge, huge. But as a dealer, we are all traumatized because we live through Cash for Clunkers, and that was a disaster. And I remember staying in the store until three o'clock in the morning, submitting by hand my Cash for Clunkers, praying that we were going to get paid and we weren't going to get charged back, and that EV tax credit gives us those negative feelings for Cash for Clunkers, but I can tell you, my experience, it's been pretty smooth so far, and it's nothing like the cash for clunkers portal.

Elena Ciccotelli: 10:34

That's so interesting that you say that because I did not make that connection in my brain, but that makes so much sense. And, yeah, like, I was just talking to Jimmy up here about the when we did that, that panel, and we're going back and forth about that, that point of sale, and saying, like, yeah, dealing with the IRS, you're having that same experience dealing with

Matthew Haiken: 10:56

it's been pretty smooth. But I remember cash for conquers, and I have, I have scars from Cash for Clunkers, and one of my biggest mentors, I remember him going on CNBC with, like, the Declaration of Independence, being like, I'm an entrepreneur. I'm not going to do cash for clunkers. Keep your money like, that's how we are as dealers. But it's been, it's been pretty smooth. Wait,

Elena Ciccotelli: 11:16

can we please dig up this clip of you like, wait, you had the you had the

Matthew Haiken: 11:21

mentor, and he they put him on the date for Cash for Clunkers, they put him on CNBC, and he picked out of his pocket like this big and it was a small Declaration of Independence, and he went on this whole rampage, how he refused to participate in cash for clunkers.

Elena Ciccotelli: 11:37

Wow. Okay, well, well, that's for Nathan to put it in the B roll. He'll find it in Google. Great. Nathan, Matthew, Matthew, it's been so great having you here, and I really appreciate what you're doing for the EV and the EV community and dealers and auto retail. So thank you so much for being here. Big round of applause for Matthew,

Unknown: 12:04

thank you for listening to this. Asotu con Session by Effectv. If you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcast. We have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker, Monday through Friday here on podcasts, also live streamed on YouTube and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto collabs. Auto collabs. And if you just want to go a little deeper into this community, you should sign up for our regular email. We put our heart and soul into it. You can get it for free by going to asotu com. We'll see you next time you

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