Automakers must attract and keep electric vehicle customers in an unprecedented marketplace. Providing the best charging options, education and incentives will help win the race.
By all indications, 2023 will be a banner year for EV sales. Sales of electrified vehicles (battery-electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell) accounted for 14.4% of total U.S. light-vehicle sales in the year’s first quarter (510,402) – their highest market share to date, according to Wards Intelligence data.
Electrified-vehicle sales for full-year 2023 are projected to reach 2,521,200, or 16.8% of the U.S. LV total – up from 12.4% for all of 2022, Wards Intelligence data shows.
Rosy indications, for sure. As the EV market expands, however, OEMs want to retain those customers “who always bought Ford” in the light of new jazzy models such as the Indi One, Polestar 3 or the Afeela (Sony-Honda joint venture). OEMs are starting to offer a more robust range of vehicle styles and prices to develop their EV customer bases
That’s a great beginning, but more needs to be done to not only retain customers but also attract new buyers and nurture brand loyalty that will see an OEM through a market that, for the average new-EV buyer, is prompting more questions than answers.
There are several key practices to consider to strengthen the EV buyer offering
Alleviating Range Anxiety: A major fear of EV buyers is running out of battery power before they can reach their next charging station. A recent Morgan Lewis study of potential buyers showed nearly half said they were worried about range, charging time and lack of public charging infrastructure.
OEMs have a great opportunity to take a leadership position by offering high-quality, portable charging stations that can not only alleviate range anxiety but also provide a secure option for a new EV driver needing to go on the road for family, business or recreational travel. Having this option readily available with a vehicle purchase is an important first step in developing brand loyalty as consumers transition to battery-powered transportation.
Providing Charging Reliability: Consumer confidence in EV travel is key to an OEM driving sales and building solid EV market share. Reliability is a priority for a consumer entering untested territory as an EV driver. Portable charging options that meet the highest criteria for performance, rugged durability and ease of use can instill more confidence and be powerful proof points that EV travel can be stress-free. These chargers are road-tested for different environmental conditions and proven to be the toughest under challenging conditions – an important attribute for consumers who worry about charging during the extreme weather occurring more frequently in the U.S.
Portable charging stations close gaps in the charging network while also offering high flexibility of use. They can be used as a mounted “wallbox” unit at home, or to provide confidence that drivers can charge from anywhere while on the road. A station with a comprehensive adapter system can be connected to any conventional household or industrial power socket. Since electricity is widely available, consumers can readily access power while on the road and securely reach their destination.
Supporting Sustainability: Ongoing education on how EVs support a healthier climate is a way for OEMs to create closer brand loyalty with current and future generations of buyers. Several studies show how climate change is firmly rooted in the general public consciousness.
Through social media, dealer co-op campaigns and sales purchase literature, OEMs have a unique opportunity to not only convince skeptics but also help educate the general public on how EVs are essential to sustainability.
Points to reinforce include:
- The carbon emissions of EVs over their entire lifecycle are significantly less than those of internal-combustion-engine vehicles of the same performance category.
- Widely available portable AC charging stations will enable drivers to charge anywhere at any time from any alternating-current power sockets, thereby spurring greater use of EVs and reducing CO2 emissions.
- OEMs are on the right side of sustainability, innovating new EV models in various price ranges to ensure all consumers can find a price point that works for them.
Attract with Incentives: Besides government tax credits, OEMs can competitively sweeten the deal by offering discounts, rebates and other enticements to get customers into EVs. As an example, they can bundle the portable charging station with a rebate and/or attractive financing deal. Engaging with social media and creating special promotions is the best way to attract younger, EV-friendly customers. The Instagram audience will respond to promotional reels and adding a sponsored promotional enticement can spur sales.
Staying Ahead of the Pack: EV adoption is still in its early days. Consumers remain worried about the reliability of EVs, pricing in their desired range and whether they can get safely from Point A to Point B. They’re looking for answers, authenticity and a sense that post-EV sale, their chosen car brand will be present with support. OEMs who take the extra steps with education, charging options, compelling incentives and steady engagement will be ahead in capturing brand loyalty.
Michael Boehm (pictured, left) is general manager of Juice Americas, a subsidiary of Juice Technology, a provider of portable charging stations for electric vehicles.