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Gearing up to sell electric vehicles costs dealerships a lot of money. They must retrain technicians, educate salespeople, and install chargers. Ford dealerships sued Ford Motor Company over the cost of factory EV trainings and Ford chargers. More than 4,000 dealerships for multiple automakers signed an open letter urging Biden to slow down the EV transition. And now it appears that 1,000 Buick dealers (out of just 2,000 total) didn’t want to transition to EV sales so GM bought out all of their franchises and shut them down.

Of course, General Motors is putting as positive a spin as it can on closing down half of its Buick dealerships. Brand President Duncan Alrded said, “What this is enabling us to do that is triple the throughput of the remaining dealers…I think it’s fair to say that I’m really pleased that we achieved it.” (CNBC).

Neon Buick logo in the window of an electric crossover EV dealership run by GM in China
Buick EV dealership, China | Robert Way via iStockPhoto

But the writing on the wall is that General Motors announced the price of retraining technicians and installing chargers, and many of these franchise owners got sticker shock. GM has not disclosed how much of the bill it is asking dealerships to foot. But for comparison’s sake, Ford’s initial retraining and charger installation fees would have cost the average dealership $2 million. This is before they sued Ford and the automaker reduced the cost.

General Motors has, so far, shelled out $1 billion to buy these franchises. And there is a silver lining for the automaker: the 1,000 dealerships closing down only represent 20% of the brand’s annual sales.

Some of these Buick dealerships may belong to franchise owners who have multiple showrooms at the same facility. There is a chance there are GM dealers selling their Buick franchise to pay for the costs of retraining their techs and selling EVs from GMC and Chevrolet.

Here’s the kicker: Buick doesn’t even sell any EVs yet. Its entire North American lineup is internal combustion crossovers. The brand is also popular in China, and Buick offers hybrids there. GM offers multiple EV crossovers from Chevrolet and Cadillac, so it’s only a matter of time until we get a Buick-badged variant.