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BEV interest among shoppers remains flat, says J.D. Power.

Drop in BEV Interest Should Fire Up Dealers

Dealers who educate customers on BEV savings can spark sales.

Interest in battery-electric vehicles has lost some spark, but dealers can reignite interest.

A recent report by J.D. Power finds the share of new-vehicle shoppers saying they are “very unlikely” to consider buying a BEV has risen.

The reason: A perceived lack of information about buying and owning a BEV. But that gives auto dealers an opportunity to educate and sell to shoppers.

“Anything any of the major stakeholders can do to educate consumers is going to be a good thing at this point,” Stewart Stropp, executive director, electric vehicle practice at J.D. Power, tells Wards.

The market-research firm’s E-Vision Intelligence Report found that the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who say they are “very unlikely" to consider a BEV for their next purchase rose to 21% in March, up from 18.9% in February and 17.8% in January.

The percentage of auto shoppers in March who said they were “very likely” to consider a BEV was 26.9%, a number that has remained largely flat for the past three months, says J.D. Power.

BEV market share has grown significantly from 2.6% of all new-vehicle sales in February 2020 to 8.5% in February 2023, according to J.D. Power. However, market share fell to 7.3% in March 2023.

The study offered respondents 25 different “rejection reasons” for not buying a BEV and nearly half related to a lack of information, says Stropp. That includes charging locations, a lack of clarity around incentives and a lack of Total Cost of Ownership information such as the impact of home charging on utility bills.  

At the same time, there is still a lot of consumer interest in purchasing a BEV

That shows the demand is out there and could grow if people were better educated about BEV ownership, he says. “There is absolutely a huge opportunity to fill this void of a lack of information.”

For auto dealers, most of whom will have more BEVs available for purchase in coming years, Stropp has some suggestions about how to ignite interest:

  • Explain the total cost of ownership. The emphasis on the financial benefits of BEV ownership has focused on not having to pay for gas. Talk to shoppers about tax credits, operating cost savings and lower maintenance costs.
  • Spend more time conveying charging information, especially charging station availability. Don’t stop there. Show the basics including how to plug in a vehicle. Charging is “the big unknown. Never once has an (internal-combustion-engine) shopper come into a dealership and asked about gas stations in that area,” Stropp says.
  • Stock up on point-of-sale materials with BEV information. That will allow consumers to refer to specifics about BEV ownership.
  • More training for frontline dealership personnel. That would increase sales consultants’ confidence at a time when EVs are no longer just a niche product, but rather “all arrows are pointing towards BEVs as being the future of the industry.”

Stropp expects the “likely- to-consider” percentage to increase in coming months as “big moving pieces” such as charging infrastructure, battery prices and government tax incentives become more clear.

As BEVs are offered in more body styles such as SUVs and pickups, that will drive more internet searches and perhaps more shopper interest, says Kevin Roberts, director of industry analytics at CarGurus.

”You need to have more models on the lot and have someone who can explain the difference between an internal-combustion engine and an EV,” he says.

Roberts also recommends dealers look into ways to help BEV owners after the purchase.






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