Today, few car dealers can give consumers comprehensive answers about electric vehicles. Regardless of the model, an EV is still a curiosity in most showrooms. Either there is none on display or a single one is standing in a faraway corner. On top of this, fuel cell cars are mostly unavailable simply because there are not enough being produced. One exception to common experience is Autohaus Päsler, a dealership located in Hamburg, Germany, where highly competent staff members offer advice on both battery and fuel cell vehicles.
The first time I distinctly remember hearing the name Päsler was last June in Enge-Sande, a small town close to the Danish border, when Oliver Päsler, the store manager of a dealership store in Schwarzenbek, showcased the new Nexo at the local Grünstrom event. While I talked with him, he told me that he specialized in battery-powered cars, whereas his brother, Sebastian, who showed up a few hours later, was the fuel cell expert in the family. During a follow-on visit to Sebastian Päsler’s store in Hamburg, he explained to me that he had thought it important to have someone with knowledge of electric vehicles near the car the entire time, which was why both siblings had not minded taking the long trip to Enge-Sande.
Sebastian Päsler shared several more anecdotes with me when I visited him last October. Even though he had a cold, he nevertheless devoted much of his time to speak to interested customers and, afterward, made himself available for an interview. “Reinhard Christiansen was here a few minutes ago,” he said. “You just missed him.” That would be the Reinhard Christiansen, Germany’s wind energy pioneer, who is building an electrolyzer and a fueling station at his wind farm in Ellhöft (see p. 21). I would have liked to chat with him again, but, in any case, he was not the reason why I was here.
That day in October was all about people such as the Päsler siblings, one of few in Germany to sell Nexo cars to prospects. Their commitment has earned them a reputation among many players in the industry, whether they are called H2 Mobility or hySolutions. The latter, by the way, had a representative coming the same day, I was told. Even Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, the head of Hydrogen Europe, had ordered his car at Päsler’s.
When I asked Sebastian Päsler about current sales figures, he gave few details, out of respect for other Hyundai dealers. At dealerships in other cities, I later found out the reason for his muted response: Not every distributor can get a Nexo model because some simply lack the means and qualification. As a result, a sizable proportion of the 150 Nexo cars imported into the EU have been leased through the Päsler family business.
Likewise, the Päslers have put a lot of effort into becoming an authorized dealer for Hyundai fuel cell cars. They regularly send their entire staff to Offenbach in the state of Hesse to attend fuel cell training courses, which last for up to three weeks. In the meantime, they stay behind to promote the cars and speak to potential buyers. Of course, this means that the brothers have less time to sell bread-and-butter models. I asked him why he carried on regardless. “You can’t earn money with it. But it’s fun,” he replied.
Closing the deal takes time
Holger Päsler, the father of the Päsler brothers and chief executive of Autohaus Päsler, was also in the store at the time of the interview. A man as eloquent as his sons, he said that he had been selling cars for 47 years and fuel cell vehicles for the last three. He had just come from a test drive and was raving over EVs. He agreed that selling fuel cell vehicles took a lot of time, saying “we need to put in double the effort.” But he has always been one to provide comprehensive and trustworthy advice. More than once, he recommended that customers not choose the model they had thought about buying and many came back thanking him for his bluntness.
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