Many drivers are still hesitant about switching to EV. Understanding where they’re coming from and what they want to know helps manufacturers, dealers and utilities engage them with relevant messaging. Here are 5 of their biggest concerns.
- Range anxiety
- Environmental and labor practice concerns
- Questions about battery life in cold climates
- Barriers to home charging for those without garages
- Lack of local stock and service expertise
Knowledge is power. When businesses know which problems their target consumers need to have solved, they hold the power to better engage with them. People want solutions. They want information about how to get those solutions. And they want their solutions to be relevant to whatever it is they’re facing right now.
This desire for solutions very much applies to electric vehicles. While EV ownership is currently on the rise, many consumers continue to wait-and-see before buying. A lot of car shoppers mention the price of EVs as the biggest hurdle to adoption. But experts across sectors have published studies, like this one on EnergySage.com from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, showing EV ownership can actually save drivers money.
Hesitation Requires Information
Still, it makes sense for potential EV owners to be concerned. Battery-powered transportation is relatively new. The industry changes each day. There’s a lot people need to know before they’re ready to plunk down thousands of dollars for a new EV. And there are plenty of pain points preventing them from making that leap.
Given the handful of challenges we touch on below (and there are more), we hope to offer companies in the electric vehicle market some actionable ways to think about messaging. Outreach efforts your company could offer to help hesitant buyers along the customer journey.
Relevant messaging, at the right moment, is key to helping customers overcome their concerns.
While you peruse the five pain points listed below, consider how you might reach out to someone facing each problem. What specific information or educational materials could you deliver that would satisfy their curiosities? Solve their problems? Put their minds at ease?
The Role of A.I. in Customer Engagement
Once you understand how to talk to customers about electric vehicle ownership, you can take the step of finding out where your customers are on the buying journey. You can also learn which outreach method is most likely to catch their attention.
With A.I.-driven customer personas and data integration, you get to find out who is farthest along on that journey. You understand what, precisely, is keeping them from progressing. You learn who needs more engagement to help them on their way. And you discover where untapped opportunities exist.
When you’re ready to take that leap, reach out to us!
In the meantime, check out five of the biggest EV purchase pain points we uncovered that consumers are currently facing. Feel free to use them to build better communication strategies.
No one wants to be stranded on the highway because of a dead car battery. In a survey conducted by AAA, says GreenCarReports.com, 91 percent of current EV drivers said, prior to buying, range anxiety was one of their biggest concerns. After buying, the study noted, their anxiety disappeared.
Manufacturers and battery producers are working hard to increase battery life. More gas stations, convenience stores and hotels along rural corridors are installing public charging stations. Industry players are working to connect cities and eliminate range anxiety.
But everyday consumers don’t necessarily know that. Not unless they’re doing a lot of research on their own. And with the kinds of busy lifestyles people lead these days, a lot of folks simply don’t have the time or bandwidth for independent deep dives.
So, people who may be avoiding an EV purchase because of range anxiety could benefit from content on things like:
- The current lifespan of an average EV battery, and
- Where public charging stations exist in their area.
Environment and Labor Concerns
On the opposite end of the spectrum, ambitious, eco-conscious consumers moving fast along the EV buying journey may be spending more and more time reading EV reviews and researching the technology.
If so, they’re likely to stumble upon shocking news articles that may be giving them pause–for good reason. Reports of child labor practices in the extraction of cobalt for EV and computer batteries are widespread. Likewise, many publications have reported on the negative impacts of lithium mining on water supplies and rural communities.
These are troubling problems that industry and governments absolutely need to address for EVs to be truly sustainable. Rather than dance around them, however, let consumers know you’re part of the solution. Let them know you’re not in the business of exacerbating the problem.
Share insights about your company’s commitment to fair labor laws and sustainability. If your business has a philanthropy arm, shout from the rooftops about the work you’re doing to uplift communities. Deliver content about how you’re cleaning up the environment or funding socially responsible inititatives.
If, like Elon Musk, you’ve promised to eliminate the use of cobalt in battery production, as NewScientist.com reported, by all means, let consumers know.
People are savvy. They want to be leveled with. Most of us respond positively to empathy and authenticity. In fact, Social Media Today reports that 90% of consumers say that brand authenticity is important to them when deciding on purchases. So be honest about the challenge these sensitive issues present. And let folks know how you’re working to make things better.
Low Battery Life in Cold Climates
It’s no secret that EV batteries lose 18-20 percent of their juice when the temperature drops. Rather than let this issue become a deal-breaker for potential EV buyers, send information to set the record straight.
Send them a breakdown of makes and models that perform best in cold climates, like this chart provided by Autoblog.com shows. It recaps a study conducted in Norway, where average temperatures fall between 27 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As the emerging EV capital of the world, Norway should know about cold batteries.
Or share information that puts drivers at ease like: “EVs don’t simply shut down when they lose power but instead deliver a series of warnings to the driver, with driving comfort and speed levels maintained until the very last few miles,” as the same Autoblog.com article explains.
Will EV drivers have to charge their vehicles more often when it’s cold outside? Sure.
That makes it even more important to remind them that combustion engine vehicles also require more fuel in cold weather, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
This is a crucial moment to share info about the overall savings EVs bring.
Send links like this one for eGallon from Energy.gov, which helps consumers compare gas prices to home electricity costs. Using this tool, they can estimate their fuel budget and learn how much they’d save from switching to electric.
Houses Without Garages
People who live in houses without garages or driveways use on-street parking. This makes home EV charging a particularly difficult challenge for a lot of people.
Sources for this blog post report delaying the purchase of an EV, despite strong desires to get one, because of this issue. They dread the thought of hiring an electrician to install a thousand-dollar piece of charging equipment on their sidewalk. They’re concerned about unauthorized use of their charger. They’re worried about vandalism.
They also fear that if they use a simple wall outlet (aka, a Level 1 charger) instead of a Level 2 (or higher), it will take forever-and-a-day to fully charge their battery. And they anticipate city citations from leaving extension cords on the sidewalk for neighbors to trip over.
For apartment dwellers, matters are compounded further. They rely on the goodwill and innovative mindsets of their landlords to get charging stations installed at their buildings. While some new, luxury-style, multi-unit properties are being equipped with EV outlets, owners of older buildings in densely packed or lower-income neighborhoods don’t always have the funds–or interest–in EV to make charging happen. Even if their tenants want it.
To combat these problems, ensure your customers know you’re working to create publicly accessible charging in the places they frequent most, so that EV ownership wouldn’t be prohibitive for them.
As BlastPoint CEO and Co-Founder Alison Alvarez told Commercial Property Executive, “It makes sense to think about your own situation, and your own target customer…It’s what their values are and what you want to reflect back to them. There’s a reason almost every Whole Foods has a charging station.”
A few more suggestions:
- Share news on charging stations at area shopping centers, public lots and parks.
- Help to integrate the plethora of apps showing where available charging stations exist. (As one BlastPoint employee who drives an EV said, “Charging networks are so fragmented, and there are so many apps you have to install to be able to find and use all of the ones in your area. I have 6 different apps on my car relating to EV charging. I’ve had to use them all at one point or another.”)
- Let people know about partnerships you’ve entered with other industry players to solve infrastructure shortfalls, especially in places we call ‘charging deserts.’
- Make sure they know about special programs, rebates or other incentives specifically designed for garage-less consumers and/or landlords. (And if those kinds of incentives don’t exist, make some!)
Lack of EV Stock and Service Nearby
EV Car-Shopping Woes
EV owners in our neck of the woods, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, purchased their Kia Niros and Nissan Leafs in Maryland or Ohio. They say that car-shopping in Pittsburgh was extremely difficult because:
A) dealerships here don’t have EVs in stock, which prompted them to visit other states, or
B) if dealers do have EVs on the lot, there might be just one to test drive.
In addition, EV shoppers say that salespeople who are knowledgeable about electric drive trains and battery types probably exist. But the ones they talked to didn’t know much of anything about EVs. Getting useful insight to make an informed decision, then, may not happen at the dealership right now.
Few EV Mechanics
Furthermore, EV owners in our region say that EVs rarely need to go into the shop, but when they do your area doesn’t have a lot of EV sales, “You might have to send the car to another state to be serviced if it’s anything more than routine inspection or tire rotation.”
This problem, hopefully, will resolve itself as time goes by. We anticipate knowledge will grow as more electric cars are funneled through the supply chain. Mechanics will undoubtedly become skilled in maintaining these vehicles. And sales reps will expand their education about the nuances across EVs as demand increases.
Until then, partnerships between dealerships, manufacturers, utilities and other EV stakeholders could bring about more available stock, unlocking access to low-EV-density regions. Especially in places like Pittsburgh, where EV ownership hasn’t exactly been as inspired as it’s been in California or New York.
Let customers know about the strides you’re making, regionally, to make EV shopping (and ownership) more attainable, realistic and easy.
Keep in mind, if you’re wondering what your customers want, it never hurts to ask. As data scientists, we always say that a good-old-fashioned customer survey is an excellent place to start when attempting to understand how to engage people.
After that, you’ll probably be ready for some artificial intelligence-infused data integration to inform your outreach strategies. Let us know when you’re there. We’ll be ready and waiting to help!