2012 Ford Focus Electric

Walk into a traditional auto dealership today and ask about buying a plug-in car and there is a good chance you will be told that there are only a couple they can show you because they are extremely popular and they can't keep them on the lot. There is also an equally-good chance you'll be told they've only a couple on hand because nobody wants them. This is only one of many surprising discoveries Consumer Reports made during a recent effort to gauge the quality of the plug-in vehicle retail experience.

The publication recently sent a number of masochists "secret shoppers" to 85 dealerships across four states and learned that, by and large, the franchisees are not very good at selling vehicles with a plug. This is the point Elon Musk has emphasized as part of the reason he prefers to use a direct-to-consumer sales model for Tesla Motors, and it seems difficult to argue against after reading some of the head-shaking situations CR's shoppers encountered.

Besides a general lack of knowledge about the product and the financial incentives in place to help buy them, there were these gems: they battery in the Prius Plug-In needs to be replaced every couple of years (wrong) and Ford doesn't make the Focus Electric (say what?). While this may sound unbelievable to some, there's no need to take our word for it. Skip on over to the report and read this sad tale of woe for yourselves.