The likelihood that a car shopper will buy a battery-electric vehicle is growing quickly in some states, while in others it is actually decreasing, according to J.D. Power. Meanwhile, automakers are moving forward with plans to produce ever more electric models.
That leaves dealers in those states where BEV adoption is stagnating or slowing in a tough position. They have a choice to make, says Stewart Stropp, executive director of EV Intelligence at J.D. Power.
“It really depends on what role any given retailer wants to play,” he tells Wards. “The choices are to be out in front of the market or not.”
If a dealer in one of the slow-adoption markets does want to be a BEV leader, this is the time to do it, says Stropp. For starters, those dealers need to be acutely aware of the entire BEV ecosystem.
Dealers “need to make sure they are in sync with all the other stakeholders,” he says.
That includes state and federal governments, utilities and others who can influence consumers’ BEV purchase decisions through investment in charging infrastructure, tax incentives and charging discounts.
Knowing about available public charging and educating consumers about infrastructure buildout – which influences access to charging – is crucial for boosting EV adoption, says Stropp.
Four out of five reasons consumers reject buying an EV are related to charging, he says. While the vast majority – around 85% – x- of charging takes place at home, new-car shoppers still worry about not finding public charging options for their vehicle, he says.
“That alone is holding people back” from buying a BEV, says Stropp.
Dealers should also let consumers know which models are eligible for federal and state tax incentives. Three out of 10 BEV rejectors don’t know enough about financial incentives, he says.
A Nation Divided
J.D. Power’s August E-Vision Intelligence Report found that while BEV adoption in the U.S. is growing steadily, “a stark division is emerging between the top 10 states for EV adoption … and the bottom 10 states for EV adoption,” says J.D. Power.
The report is based on a monthly analysis of millions of data points aggregated into six categories – interest, availability, adoption, affordability, infrastructure and experience – to evaluate the progress toward parity of BEVs with internal-combustion-engine vehicles in the U.S.
Among the conclusions: By 2035, California is projected to reach 94% EV share while Michigan will reach just 41% and North Dakota will struggle to reach 20%.
To be sure, the selection of available BEVs plays a role in adoption speed., says Stropp. J.D. Power’s 2023 Electric Vehicle Consideration Study found only 42% of consumers found a “viable” BEV that met their needs.
That may be because the majority of BEV models in the market are currently in the premium segment, says Stropp. The premium/mass market mix is 80% to 20%, “the exact opposite of what we see on the internal-combustion-engine side,” he says.
The study measured responses from 8,136 consumers and was fielded February through May 2023.
BEV adoption may begin to equalize across states as more mass-market models become available.
“As we see more of these mass-market models, such as General Motors models, hit the market and bring the price point down quite a bit, particularly the (Chevrolet) Equinox might spark more activity and adoption of EVs,” says Stropp.
Nonetheless, dealers in the lagging states can still have a “massive role to play in terms of EV adoption,” he says.
Getting in front of the market can start with something as simple as getting more consumers to take test drives or rides in a BEV, says Stropp.
“In the data (there) is a really strong correlation between how much experience a shopper has had with EVs and how likely they are to buy one,” he says. “Even the likelihood of sitting in an EV increases consideration twofold.”
A ride-and-drive event also gives dealers an opportunity to educate consumers about BEV-specific matters such as public charging, says Stropp.
So, if you’re a Chevrolet dealer in North Dakota, don’t throw up your hands in despair about the adoption rate forecast. You need to be ready because things could change, he says.
“If you are in a slower adoption market and the government within that state decides to try to change that and decides to inject more incentive in the market, you as a dealer would want to modify your actions around that. It is incredible how dynamic (the BEV market) is going to be over the next several years,” says Stropp.