Exploring the journey for primary vehicle purchases, a new report reveals a gap in the timeline between consumers becoming aware of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and purchasing one. BEV owners prepare for their vehicle purchases well ahead of time, with 85% of BEV owner respondents stating they became aware of the vehicle they chose at least a few months before purchasing one, compared with 56% of all new car buyers.
Those are the latest findings of the new Path to Purchase DeepDive report from EVForwardTM, the largest, most comprehensive study of the next generation of electric vehicle buyers. This groundbreaking study was developed in 2019 by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive experience counseling the world’s largest automotive and energy companies. As part of ongoing EVForward research, the Path to Purchase DeepDive surveyed BEV owners, BEV shoppers and non-BEV shoppers to explore the path to purchase a vehicle and how BEVs can win more along the way.
“While there is a stark contrast between the level of purchase preparation BEV owners take in comparison to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) shoppers, supply chain delays are a hurdle that makes the BEV awareness-to-purchase gap difficult to close,” said Ben Lundin, Automotive & Mobility insights director at Escalent. “Some automakers have reservation-to-delivery delays of three-plus years—making BEV adoption particularly challenging for spur-of-the-moment decision-makers.”
Word of mouth and personal relationships have a significant impact on BEV adoption, with 88% of BEV owners likely to know at least a few other BEV owners prior to purchase. Conversely, 62% of non-BEV shoppers report having no friends, family or acquaintances with a BEV—presenting a huge opportunity for automakers to level-up ambassador programs and use existing BEV owners as evangelists to raise awareness and consideration of BEVs before consumers start actively shopping.
Utility companies also have a unique opportunity to connect with consumers before and throughout the BEV shopping journey. Only 16% of BEV owners spoke to their utility about electricity rates ahead of purchasing a BEV. Among those who didn’t speak to their utility, nearly three-quarters also did not contact an electrician, contractor or handyman prior to purchase.
“We’ve seen select BEV brands form communities, such as the Tesla Motors Club. The power of social influence presents a great opportunity for other OEMs to create similar ambassador programs to raise awareness of BEVs, before the shopping and decision-making process, to spur more consideration at the top of the funnel,” said K.C. Boyce, Automotive & Mobility and Energy vice president at Escalent. “Similarly, there is a significant opportunity for utilities to engage with prospective BEV buyers by creating and promoting communities and events that increase consumer exposure to battery electric vehicles. Automakers and dealerships need to reach out to utilities to better incorporate them into consumers’ awareness, consideration, education, and buying process.”
To learn more about the study, click below.
The EVForward Path to Purchase DeepDive was conducted among a national sample of 1,374 respondents, including 118 BEV owners, 248 BEV shoppers (shopped for but have never owned a BEV) and 1,008 non-BEV shoppers (haven’t shopped for and haven’t owned a BEV) from February 16 to March 6, 2022. All respondents in this study have shopped for a new vehicle within the last two years.
These respondents are a subset of the EVForward database, a global sample of more than 40,000 new-vehicle buyers age 18 to 80, weighted by age, gender and location 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.