26 Feb 20

Different sales message needed to boost EV uptake

Fleets and vehicle manufacturers that want to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles need to change the focus of their sales message, according to a new report.

The road ahead for e-mobility, by McKinsey & Company, says the sales messages that persuaded early adopters to choose battery powered cars are different to those that will convince the mass market to go electric.

These first battery-electric car buyers are typically five years younger than other new car buyers, live in urban areas, have a 32% longer commute time (almost 10 hours per week) but only travel short distances, earn 30% more and are six times more likely to have bought their last car online. They are also more likely to live in areas with restrictions on the use of petrol and diesel cars.

“To expand EV adoption beyond the urban, tech-savvy consumers who are easily accustomed to EVs, OEMs will need to adapt their sales approach so that it teaches and convinces other consumers who commute longer distances, are older or not as tech-savvy, or have significant concerns regarding whether an EV can actually fulfill their mobility needs,” says the report.

Mass market still reluctant to commit to EVs

While government, technology and infrastructure developments support the uptake of EVs, drivers are still reluctant to commit to zero emission motoring. Many more are considering EVs, says McKinsey, but with only 2.4% of global car sales being battery powered last year, manufacturers and dealers need to do much more to attract drivers out of internal combustion model engines, particularly with 400 battery-electric models set to hit the world’s new car market in the next five years.

Promote driving experience

The report urges OEMs and their dealers to focus on the driving experience of EVs – almost silent and with phenomenal acceleration – as the principal sales message. Detailed research across four key markets of Norway, Germany, China and the USA found that owners of EVs appreciate how their vehicles drive more than any cost savings or mobility benefits (such as access to restricted city streets).

“Although the environmental advantage of EVs is frequently discussed in the media – BEVs have zero local emissions and up to 50 percent better lifecycle CO2 footprints than ICE vehicles today – it is only the fourth most popular benefit for consumers,” says McKinsey.

It advises OEMS and dealers to: “move the test-drive experience from ‘hard to get’ to ‘instantly available’,” via online booking tools, and adds that EVs should have equal billing in showrooms alongside ICE models, rather than being tucked away in a quiet corner.

The consultancy also says sales staff need to be able to convince potential buyers that the range of EVs will meet their needs; that the charging infrastructure (both domestic and public) is robust; that batteries will last; and that the technology will not quickly become obsolete.

“Until these questions are convincingly answered, the EV stage will remain set but with a critical mass of potential EV drivers waiting in the wings.”

Images: Shutterstock; McKinsey & Co

Authored by: Jonathan Manning