Liza Borches

October 3, 2023
Liza Borches and Paul J Daly sit down to chat at ASOTU CON 2023.
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Liza Borches is the President and CEO at Carter Myers Automotive.

Thanks to Effectv for making ASOTU CON Sessions possible!

Paul Daly: 0:00If you're listening to his solo con sessions by effective live from a soda con 2023. Okay, this is a really pleasant surprise when we record these podcasts don't really know who's showing up. And then Liza Porsches walks up on stage and says that she's the next victim on a soda concessions lies. It's so good to be with you happily the next victim. All right. All right. So we came up and you're like, I think you've heard everything I have to say. So I don't know what we're going to talk about. But I know that's not true. Because we've had several sessions together over the course of a soda con and a dealer, a really well known dealer walks up and he goes, You know, every time I'm in a session, where lies is that I always learned something. And I feel the same way. Thank you. Okay, so I have something to talk about. There's just recently within the last month, I saw on LinkedIn that you held this very special Evie training day at your headquarters, and I saw pictures of a big portion of your staff and all different makes and models of EVs. You brought some consultants and trainers in, and you even in the Met in the Hey, even if you're not in the dealership world, but you're just curious about these EVs. It's not open to the public, but come on by and you know, we'll show you around and let you drive some of these things. So tell me about what that event was and why you held it.

Liza Borches: 1:23

So it was our second annual Evie boot camp was your second one's our second. Okay, we did it a year ago, last summer as well. And the whole intent behind it was to create Eevee champions in each of our dealerships, and making sure that we have a manager and a sales associate in every store, who is really educated on everything from the incentives available to charging infrastructure to not just their own Evie products, but all the Evie products that CMA offers, because so often we hear from a customer, that they're just curious about an electric vehicle, and they might walk into our Ford store, but that might not be the right product. So we want to make sure that we have an ecosystem within CMA that we can help them on their Eevee journey beyond just one product

Paul Daly: 2:07

is that was who was there from each store, a sales manager and an associate. Yes.

Liza Borches: 2:11

And how many people were there? We had 43 people there,

Paul Daly: 2:14

and how many different EVs did you have?

Liza Borches: 2:16

I think we had 15 or 16 that were there available, including and the one that most of our team did not know about was the Ford E Transit. And so it was interesting, we had it there on display, and there's a catering company that is within a half a mile of our dealership that said they they wanted we didn't even know there was an electric option for us to potentially use as our catering ban. So we actually kept that Ford over in Charlottesville for a few days to be able to go show them and then one of our parts managers said you know what, we have a parts van that only does in town,

Paul Daly: 2:49

local short runs, deliveries happen to know where it's at every night right next to a charger that's not being used. So now

Liza Borches: 2:55

that 40 Transit is going to live in Charlottesville and ber parts delivery the right way to rat around the community. Yes, wrapped with our sustainability logo with some information about EVs. So a lot comes out of just getting people together in a boot camp like that ideas that we hadn't even thought of before. So it was it was a fantastic day John Atlas from Bev everything came in. We also had a gentleman from gen one ad, and we had a woman from the Nature Conservancy all come with different perspectives. We had a consumer panel, where our team got to hear from four different consumers about what their Evie experience has been like and the purchase process and the ownership. So

Paul Daly: 3:32

you source them from your own your own book of this No.

Liza Borches: 3:36

Gen one ad actually sourced these consumers better. So objectivity totally. And one of them was a Tesla owner. And then I think the other three had brands that overlapped with us, but they didn't necessarily buy from us.

Paul Daly: 3:49

Well give us give us the skinny What did they say?

Liza Borches: 3:53

They were all once they drove an Eevee once they drove an Eevee they were all in they will never go back to an all four all four were very clear never going back to a nice vehicle. And it really they all said you have to get someone to sit in it to experience it, which is what we hear all the time. Right? I know and then a lot of them three of the four did say that their sales associate was didn't know anything about the car that they were buying. One of them said they came in to test drive in the car was dead behind the dealership, you know, hadn't been charged the the normal horror stories that we have all heard before most of these four had experienced

Paul Daly: 4:28

and do you have any insight into like, they live in neighborhoods and apartments, you know what I mean? Cuz I know that's a big consideration of the use of Eevee ownership is can I plug it in every night?

Liza Borches: 4:40

One of them lived on a farm. Well, that one lived in DC. And the other two I think were in in neighborhood type communities. So in different I guess different in different scenarios,

Paul Daly: 4:51

but but all places that you they would probably have accessibility to good charging infrastructure. Yeah. Okay. So what what's the result? I mean, it's kind of really? Well,

Liza Borches: 5:02

I'll tell you one of the big takeaways that was unexpected. John Atlas had our team role playing some of the objections that we hear or the questions that we have in our dealerships around EVs. And one of the things that he taught us was that it was okay to say to a customer, I know you're interested in in evey, but based on everything you're telling me right now, maybe today isn't the right time yet for you. Let's show you this Ford F 150 versus the lightning. But in the future, we would love to keep this conversation open with you. And when there's a time that an eating that may be the right fit. So he basically gave our team the the Okay, to let it go. Yeah, right. You don't have to force someone into an Eevee if it's not the right fit for them, because the worst thing we could do is have a customer out there in a car, they're unhappy.

Paul Daly: 5:47

Oh, that's like an enemy for life. Right, right. Oh, they sold me this car that I don't like, that's inconvenient, you know, because they weren't ready.

Liza Borches: 5:53

If we ask great questions, we'll figure out who are those consumers that an Eevee would be right for just like we figure out, you know, a needs and wants analysis for any consumer.

Paul Daly: 6:01

So I've heard you say a couple of times in sessions and elsewhere. When the question is, when do you think we will be 100%? Evie, and there are a lot of dates out there. 2030 is some magical date that the government thinks is going to nobody believes that including them. And then people don't maybe 2040 Maybe 2050, you have a perspective on this. I've heard so what is your perspective on when will we be fully Eevee?

Liza Borches: 6:25

Well, my answer to that was never. And the reason is not because I don't believe in EVs. I think they are super fun to drive, my husband drives an Eevee, I drive a plug in hybrid. But I believe that technology and innovation is happening so fast, that there's going to be other technology that comes before we ever get to a 100%. Evie, that in certain applications is just better. Yeah, something that we have not even created or thought of yet. I mean, maybe it could be hydrogen or

Paul Daly: 6:56

something. The development curve, figured it out. But I think

Liza Borches: 7:00

that we've got incredible innovation happening and something else is going to come. So we might end up with a 40% EV product. And then another some sort of alternative fuel option that another 40% I don't know how that creates infrastructure in the United States to support it might be very complicated. But I believe there's too many smart people and too much, too many new ideas to think that we're just all of a sudden gonna be

Paul Daly: 7:27

it's gonna be right, who would have imagined, you know, 20 years ago, that we would be in the middle of like, a total power train reinvention. Right. And you were in the business back then. Right? You were with Honda, and you know, as an OEM rep, and obviously, your family, your father in the car business? Was this even, even on the radar 20 years ago?

Liza Borches: 7:48

Well, you think about it was it back in the 20s, where the original EVs were pretty much gone right? Back in the early 1900s. Right? Because

Paul Daly: 7:56

some of those pictures right, like these carriages that are all plugged in delivery trucks all plugged in, we sold

Liza Borches: 8:03

them out of the front of our hardware store in late 1908. Yeah, we've got pictures of electric vehicles in the front of our hardware store. lievable, and then eventually the EVS that went by the wayside. Evie dealer. Yeah. So we technically weren't even a franchise dealer. At that point, we ran a hardware store and started selling vehicles out of the front of it. We became an actual franchise dealer in 1924, with Ford. And that's of course, by then EVs had gone by the wayside,

Paul Daly: 8:30

right? Because we figured out, Hey, we can mass produce these, we found a fuel source and we're like, combustion is the way to go, we can make it happen. But I don't

Liza Borches: 8:37

think we should expect that we're going to have another 100 year period with the same technology in place that ran vehicles. So

Paul Daly: 8:45

you have a perspective on this that transcends, like just the modern experience because of legacy, multiple generations. And you've actually one of the very few that as a family business have watched it, change. And now the thing that like, oh, we have it all figured out. It especially with the technology curve, especially with that

Liza Borches: 9:04

we even heard from one of our older relatives that Eliza, you know, we had the Spanish Flu back in 1918. It was just like, COVID. I was like, what?

Paul Daly: 9:12

How do you remember this? Right? Like our business made

Liza Borches: 9:15

it through the Spanish flu? We can make it through COVID?

Paul Daly: 9:18

That's amazing. It's like no, no, no, it

Liza Borches: 9:20

was even talked about the Spanish flu or how that impacted our country back then. But no, centage wise, I think more people were actually impacted back then than we were by COVID. Out, there's

Paul Daly: 9:28

just less ability to like, communicate it, communicate it all the time about it, have an opinion on it, right, shut things down, keep things open, whatever. So hydrogen, you brought up and there probably is a case to be made that you know, from a distribution standpoint, like I've watched, I've seen a lot on hydrogen engines and they they kind of look feel sound, perform a lot like a combustion engine. So there's a lot of familiarity there. And we already have a fueling ecosystem and infrastructure that is based around stopping somewhere for five to 10 minutes. There's a tank Holding, holding, you know, the propellant or holding, you know, the pump it. It's like, okay, we kind of have a built in infrastructure for that. I mean, there's complexities around how you store hydrogen. What else? Is there any even anything else out there?

Liza Borches: 10:15

I am not going to pretend tonight I am not that smart. Yes. Where I see the biggest hang up is the fact that we've got, I think, incredible people in this country in this world that will come up with these ideas. But do we have the collaboration, like asoto, between our government, our manufacturers, and all of the private enterprises? I mean, we can we're watching EVs have incredible challenge trying to get infrastructure out. And you throw another completely different idea or two, I don't know how that works. I don't know. Our country has gotten so fractured and in in our thinking and not able to come together on solutions. I don't I don't know what that looks like, Paul.

Paul Daly: 10:53

Yeah, I mean, just that alone, right? There. Every issue these days seems to become a political issue.

Liza Borches: 11:00

Yeah, right. You should not be a political issue.

Paul Daly: 11:02

It's funny, it's actually funny to think about how EVs were kind of a political issue with the rise of Tesla. And then Elon Musk, kind of like his perception change. So it became like a reverse political issue. And then now, it's just a total mess. But without a doubt, we have politics driving a definition of consumer desire, which is not real. And we know that however, the technologies be even like we see Toyota really changed position on EVs. Before they were like, very slow. It's going to be hybrids. And then like, you know, changing the guard. And I think the realization that China is in such a disproportionate advantage because of the speed at which they're putting out product that I think Toyota is was like, love it or hate it right or wrong, we can't get beat, you know, so they're in a position now where they're going to be releasing a lot more EVs. I wonder, I wonder what just the sheer inertia habit like how that carries us forward?

Liza Borches: 12:02

I think there's so many data points around what the true consumer demand is on EVs, that you can create any narrative that you want. I think Toyota has a pretty strong path. They were encouraged, I think really pushed to have to go deeper into EVs more quickly, which is probably good for the rest of us because if we are definitely going down this path, I'd like Toyota to have Research and Production behind it. So I think that's a good thing.

Paul Daly: 12:32

I do too, Eliza. We didn't know we're going to talk about but always an engaging conversation. Thanks for giving us some time to Sodor concessions by effective Thanks, Paul. Thank you for listening to this ASO to concession by effective if you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcasts we have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker Monday through Friday, here and podcasts also live streamed on YouTube and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto collapse auto collapse. And if you just want to go a little different in 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 a We'll see you next time.

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