Dealers can convert the many shoppers intrigued by battery-electric vehicles into buyers by educating them about the functionality and features of the growing number of available models.
That’s one takeaway from the latest annual J.D. Power Electric Vehicle Consideration Study, says Stewart Stropp, senior director of automotive retail at J.D. Power.
“It’s very important for all stakeholders to track what’s happening in terms of all these vehicles hitting the market,” Stropp tells Wards. “There is a fundamental lack of information that the retailer can address by putting the information into a more educational context.
“They can start by talking about charging and answering questions such as ‘How do I set up a charger in my house?’ and ‘Where do I find chargers in the community?’ Another key piece is the experiential elements with ride-and-drives or test drives.”
He says that even avid car enthusiasts might be overwhelmed by the array of new and upcoming BEV entries, especially those from well-established vehicle manufacturers. The number of entries is so plentiful that J.D. Power is adding a monthly report to supplement its annual electrification study.
Dealers can use that and other tools as resources to boost the informational content on their websites, prep salespeople to show and demonstrate various features and point out vehicle characteristics during test drives and ride-and-drive trips.
Although the study shows 24% of shoppers say they are “very likely” to consider purchasing or leasing a BEV, up from 20% a year ago, data shows most new-vehicle shoppers still aren’t sold. That’s why dealers and automakers should step up the instructions and driving opportunities they offer customers, Stropp says.
How to sway those shoppers? The study finds firsthand experience with a BEV is a significant factor in changing attitudes. The data shows 24% of shoppers who were passengers in BEVs and 34% who had driven BEVs were “very likely” to consider a BEV purchase. Only 11% of respondents who had no personal experience with BEVs were “very likely” to consider purchasing one.
Shoppers’ lifestyles also play roles in their decisions. Data shows 27% of homeowners are “very likely” to consider a BEV while 17% of those who lease fall into that category. More than one-third of respondents who are unlikely to consider a BEV purchase are concerned about the lack of charging access at home or work.
Plus, daily commuters and road-trippers have higher BEV purchase considerations than those who drive less frequently.
Those are all points salespeople can consider when talking to shoppers. Doing so may bring positive payoffs. Nearly one-third of those who reject BEVs cite a lack of information for their disinterest.
“When you consider the whole notion of getting people into these vehicles, physically giving them the chance to experience them firsthand, you can make a strong argument that dealerships are better suited to do that than anyone else,” Stropp says. “They have the vehicles, the locations and are known in their communities. They definitely can be the source for the information customers seek.”