The idea persists that a successful electric vehicle (EV) must always deliver certain attributes. Examples include advanced in-vehicle technology or futuristic design. Arguments range from making comparisons with Teslas that “have that feature” to thinking that an EV must showcase all of a company’s latest technology.
This thinking is holding back broader EV adoption and here’s why.
Taken as a whole, consumers most interested in EVs are twice as likely as all other buyers to care about in-vehicle technology, such as infotainment, displays, and connectivity. This group of EV intenders consists of three unique buyer types, only one of which has a keen interest in this type of technology. We discovered this thanks to Escalent’s EVForward, the largest, most comprehensive study of the next generation of EV buyers that we designed precisely to provide real, actionable answers. Identifying six EV buyer personas, we learned the desire for advanced in-vehicle technology is the exclusive domain of Young Enthusiasts.
However, this changes when it comes to autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Both Young Enthusiasts and Torchbearers are five times more likely to be interested in AV tech than the three personas with the lowest EV intent. Additionally, Stewards, despite their interest in EVs, may even be turned off by complex, cutting-edge AV features.
But it’s not just technology where one approach doesn’t fit all. Stewards—who share the same level of environmental interest as Torchbearers—have wildly different expectations for vehicle comfort. They are twice as likely to care about interior comfort and materials, so an EV must excel in these areas to attract Stewards (and make sure it’s an SUV while you’re at it!).
Another common refrain is that to attract buyers in larger numbers, EVs must reach price parity with traditional gasoline vehicles—meaning the cost of an EV will have to be equal or less than a comparable gasoline vehicle. And yet, the top two EV buyer personas are three times more likely than other buyers to list price as the least important attribute of their next vehicle. These buyers, who represent a substantial 22% of all vehicle buyers, are willing to pay for what they want—companies just need to deliver it. Hint: it’s not an expensive small car lacking many of the amenities they have come to expect in $40,000+ vehicles.
Tesla has recently been in the news talking about the development of a “million mile” battery, which would help address the second biggest barrier to EV adoption, according to the 10,000+ buyers surveyed in EVForward. By and large, battery longevity has not been addressed. Doing so would dramatically improve EV interest. When offered a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty for the EV powertrain, the top three EV buyer personas increase their purchase consideration a staggering 20 points on a 0-100 point scale. In many cases, that’s the difference between simply considering an EV and having one in your driveway.
The old “one size fits all” approach to EVs hasn’t worked. And it doesn’t have to be the approach anymore. Broadening the appeal of EVs relies on better targeting customer needs, even if it means focusing on non-traditional areas, such as comfort or warranty.
At Escalent, we work with a wide variety of automotive and mobility companies to help them refine and enhance their strategic planning for greater market success. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you improve your EV strategies, please send us a note.
EVForward™ was conducted with a national sample of 10,293 new vehicle buyers aged 18-80. The data were weighted by age, gender, and US state to match the demographics of the US new-vehicle purchaser population. It was also weighted by vehicle segment to match current vehicle sales. The sample for this research comes from an opt-in, online panel. As such, any reported margins of error or significance tests are estimated, and rely on the same statistical assumptions as data collected from a random probability sample. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.