People who are not actively pursuing electric vehicle adoption but may be open to it sometime in the future are what we’re calling Roadblocked EV Buyers. Learn about their demographic, lifestyle and consumer traits in Part 3 of our series on EV Readiness. Understanding what makes this group tick should help you begin to break down barriers to adoption and help create charging equity. Engage Roadblocked EV Buyers now, with outreach and educational materials that resonate.
Catch up on EV Readiness Parts 1 & 2:
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Overview
- Low income
- More likely to carpool, walk or use public transit
- Less motivation to act on new information
- Prioritize energy comfort
- Preferred engagement channels include Facebook, TV and radio
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Demographic Profile
According to our research in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., Roadblocked EV Buyers are people who typically show demographics consistent with lower wealth than their Ready to Buy or Emerging Buyers counterparts.
Roadblocked EV Buyers tend to live in communities with a higher-than-average number of residents earning below the federal poverty line. Their ZIP codes also show a slightly higher number of households where a person with a disability resides.
Their neighborhoods reveal a higher density of multi-family residential complexes than exist in other communities. As such, fewer Roadblocked EV Buyers live in single-family homes, and more reside in apartments or townhomes than Emerging or Ready to Buy customers.
A significant percentage of Roadblocked EV Buyers do not currently own any vehicle. As such, this group is more likely than others to walk, carpool/rideshare and/or use public transportation to get where they need to go.
Fewer Roadblocked EV Buyers hold college degrees than either of the other EV groups, and fewer hold white-collar jobs. These customers, instead, are more likely to work in blue-collar or hourly wage jobs, be retired or identify as homemakers. Roadblocked EV Buyers, as a whole, are less likely to work from home than the other EV groups.
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Consumer Behavior
Because of their lower incomes, Roadblocked EV Buyers show lower investment capacity for accessing the ‘extras’ in life that other groups enjoy. Struggling to make ends meet, especially during uncertain economic times, these consumers can’t spend as much money on new tech gadgets or make expensive upgrades to their homes.
Instead, they are balancing mortgage payments or rent, utilities, healthcare and daycare bills. Since many don’t own their homes, they are beholden to the appliances and quality of construction materials that landlords or property owners have chosen.
We know that oftentimes in lower-income communities, rental unit appliances and building materials are outdated and/or of lower quality, thus making them inefficient with regards to energy usage. This inefficiency can lead to long-term, widespread effects, including very high energy bills.
“Households that earn $50,000 or more spend just 3% of their income on energy expenditures while households that earn $10,000 or less spend 33% of their income on energy related expenses,” says energystar.gov.
Earning less money and spending more on energy than other consumer segments means Roadblocked EV Buyers are not able to spend as much on basic needs, such as healthcare, groceries, childcare, education and transportation. That means a health crisis or childcare issue, both of which roiled specifically low-income and minority communities around the world throughout Covid-19, can set these consumers back even farther financially and can do so very quickly.
To Heat or Eat?
Economic instability can come from unemployment, low-wage work, lack of employee benefits or a number of other causes. Either way, lower income households too often face the “heat or eat dilemma.” This means consumers have to choose between paying to run an energy-guzzling furnace in the winter to stay warm (or, conversely, running an inefficient air conditioning unit to stay cool in the summer) or buying food to feed their families. This is a devastating choice families have to make.
While not all Roadblocked EV Buyers live in dire circumstances, many of them experience income fluctuations, rising debt from unpaid bills and healthcare, and often a sense that attempting to change their energy consumption habits is near futile given their lack of choices. Transportation electrification is, as a result, low on their priority list – or may even seem completely out of reach for some – delaying EV readiness.
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Lifestyle, Values & Engagement
People across income brackets show growing concern about environmental issues. But Roadblocked EV Buyers don’t score particularly high for “green values.” Instead, they may view sustainability as a luxury that’s beyond their grasp.
They do, however, value comfort and affordability, especially when it comes to energy usage in the home. Perhaps this comes back to the issue of lower quality housing stock in multi-family residences and exceedingly high energy bills.
Drafty windows, leaky doors, inadequate insulation and poor ventilation are issues that can make it very difficult–and expensive–to attain comfort. If Roadblocked families are constantly battling frozen pipes and blown fuses, in other words, you can see why buying a smart thermostat or electric vehicle doesn’t top their list of priorities.
Messaging & Channel Preference
Still, this group may be responsive to energy efficiency messaging, especially if it offers helpful tips they can follow without requiring an in-person appointment or some piece of technology they may not have. They may also be open to receiving information about how to keep finances on track (e.g., budgeted payment or assistance programs).
While this group shows a lower technology propensity than higher-income groups, Roadblocked EV Buyers are frequent Facebook and cellphone users. Find and engage them with your targeted messaging there, or via Prime Time TV and broadcast radio.
Keep in mind, Roadblocked EV Buyers show lower willingness to act on new information than the other EV groups. This may reflect low economic stability. No matter how much information they have about a new initiative or program, for instance, they may feel the financial barrier to adopting is too high a wall to overcome.
But, ultimately, they may be open to information about how much EV owners save on fuel costs over time. While they may not be able to act on that information now, it may increase their future EV readiness by catching their attention and helping them envision themselves as future EV owners.
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Environmental Health
While Roadblocked EV Buyers may feel like there’s not much they can do to improve the environment themselves, many are very concerned with environmental issues–especially customers living in dense communities where vehicle traffic is high, where there’s a lot of industrial pollution, or that are situated near power generation sites.
These sources of pollution negatively affect the health of Roadblocked EV Buyers, leading to higher rates of asthma and lung disease in their communities. The American Lung Association reported in 2020 on numerous studies showing that, “Low socioeconomic status consistently increased the risk of premature death from fine particle pollution among 13.2 million Medicare recipients.” The same report adds that these communities are predominantly non-white.
Many Roadblocked EV Buyers clearly have a vested interest in seeing pollution in their communities reduced, and the health outcomes of their fellow community members improved. As such, this group will likely be open to information about how transportation electrification can help reach those goals.
However, their ability to act on that information may likely be dependent upon things like their local government’s charging initiatives and their landlord’s willingness to install stations.
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Community Preparedness
Advocacy groups such as the Greenlining Institute see access to EV charging in low-income and minority areas as foundational to creating a pathway toward equity. Yet electrification in these communities has been slow, nationwide. In fact, many of these neighborhoods are “EV Charging Deserts.”
Lower-income and minority communities in urban areas tend to be more heavily populated than suburban neighborhoods. They tend to have fewer green spaces and less tree shade, which are known to absorb heat and carbon dioxide.
Vehicular traffic, primarily from public transit, is typically higher in these communities. Residents tend to live closer to one another. And if they do own a vehicle, they share on-street or private parking lots.
Knowing what we do about Roadblocked EV Buyers’ higher tendency to carpool, walk and use public transit, cultivating a community-based, supportive, functional electric vehicle infrastructure would benefit the members of these communities in profound ways.
In order for EV readiness to increase in these areas, infrastructure should include charging in multi-family residential complexes, at community charging hubs, and at local businesses and service providers.
But in Roadblocked communities, it may be even more urgent to focus infrastructure on supporting the electrification of public transit buses, school buses, shared use vehicles (e.g., Zipcars) and personal mobility devices like e-scooters and e-bikes.
To make this functional infrastructure happen, participants from every prong of the EV Ecosystem must be involved to make effective decisions. These stakeholders include:
- Municipal governments
- School Districts
- Vehicle OEMs
- EVSE Manufacturers
- Local business owners
- Fleet Operators
- Community Advocates
Roadblocked EV Buyers: Predictive Personas
A.I.-backed, predictive personas give stakeholders the ability to understand and engage with residential consumers AS WELL AS with any of the commercial entities listed above.
With commercial personas, EV stakeholders are better equipped to find and target their ideal partners for deploying infrastructure strategy. Meaningful EV partnerships help teams across sectors collaborate effectively, so they can set about the work of electrifying transportation in a more widespread and equitable way.
With A.I.-driven customer intelligence, teams can begin to create access to electric vehicle adoption so that it benefits even the most vulnerable people in our communities, by reducing carbon emissions and improving the overall health and well-being of all consumers.
What begins with some very basic data analysis puts businesses, governments, and all other stakeholders in the EV Ecosystem on the road to achieving our zero-carbon goals.