As new-car buyer personas continue to evolve, connecting with consumers’ emotions and personality is more likely to ignite interest in battery electric vehicles (BEVs). This diverges from the long-standing industry narrative that environmental benefits are what drive BEV adoption, creating great opportunity for brands to expand their messaging and embrace new customers with a varying mix of values, lifestyles and attitudes.
The environmental and running cost credentials of BEVs are clear, but relatively few car buyers are motivated by such a narrow range of rational criteria. In 2022, 43% of car buyers acknowledge the environmental credentials of BEVs as a benefit, but the same factor only ranks 9th out of 19 in a hierarchy of most important car buying criteria, thus revealing the environment’s limited role in impacting purchases. Now, there is a deeper layer of emotionally charged motivations underpinning the decision to purchase a BEV.
Those are the latest findings of the 2022 EVForwardTM Europe report from the largest, most comprehensive study of the next generation of electric vehicle buyers—including BEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—in the US and Europe. The platform was developed in 2019 by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive experience counseling the world’s largest automotive companies.
“The BEV segment is almost becoming a status symbol for consumers who want to be viewed as fashionable, tech-forward and pioneering,” said Mark Carpenter, managing director in Escalent’s Surrey, UK office who works within the company’s Automotive & Mobility practice. “A fundamental change is happening in the psychological makeup of consumers considering BEVs, and different car buyer psyches are emerging. OEMs need to embrace ‘EV-Joyment’ to celebrate the aspects of BEVs that engage the positive emotions and aspirations of car buyers to trigger the purchase decision.”
European car buyers are becoming more reassured and open to BEVs in 2022, with increases in charging infrastructure, personal awareness, and experience with their peer groups obtaining BEV ownership.
Charging providers can tap into the positive emotions and motivational aspirations of car buyers by shifting how charging infrastructure is designed and positioned. Instead of being simple points of access to charging plugs, charging stations need to become desirable destinations with amenities—such as a café with Wi-Fi, which are the top-two choices for survey respondents—that cater to consumers’ personality and lifestyle desires. This will grow consumer awareness of charging infrastructure and BEV consideration by painting a fuller picture of BEV ownership experiences that align with consumers’ self-image.
BEV sentiment is also improving, with 41% viewing BEVs more positively in 2022, in contrast to 36% with a positive impression in 2021. Creating a hopeful outlook for adoption, 18% of survey respondents say their next car will be a BEV, up from 12% in 2021.
Click below for more information about the study.
The second annual wave of the EVForward Europe study was conducted across five European countries: United Kingdom (n=1,941), Germany (n=2,011), France (n=1,723), Italy (n=1,915) and Spain (n=1,806). It was a market-representative sample of 9,396 respondents and included a survey that fielded from July to August 2022. Respondents are ages 18 to 80 with a primary vehicle model that’s 2016 or newer, and all intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next five years. Data were weighted by age and gender to match the demographics of the new-vehicle buyer population and 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.
After two years of research, the total EVForward Europe sample now includes more than 19,000 new-car buyers across Europe, adding to the 30,000+ new-car buyers in the United States.