Study:Education, Experience Critical to Selling Electric Cars

Christian Wardlaw | Feb 25, 2021

A new study by J.D. Power finds consumers largely undecided about battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The inaugural J.D. Power U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study reports that 59% of new-vehicle shoppers fall into the “somewhat likely” or “somewhat unlikely” categories when it comes to consideration of a BEV for their next purchase or lease. J.D. Power interprets this finding as a “significant window of opportunity” for electric vehicle manufacturers.

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“Right now, the projected BEV supply outweighs consumer interest. And for every new-vehicle shopper seriously considering BEVs, there’s another at the opposite end of the spectrum,” said Stewart Stropp, senior director, automotive retail at J.D. Power. “To avoid a potential ongoing inventory surplus, it behooves manufacturers and retailers to identify why shoppers in the middle ground aren’t completely sold on the technology, and how to get them over the hump into the ‘very likely’ consideration camp.”

Among people who have ridden in a BEV but not driven or owned one, consideration is three times higher than people with no experience in one (20% vs. 7%). However, the study finds that half of the respondents have never been in a BEV, much less driven or owned one. The data suggests that experience with a BEV – even if just a ride in one – is a critical component of consideration.

“Anything stakeholders can do to get more people into electric vehicles, whether it’s experiential events, take-home test drives, or other proactive efforts, will help break down the preconceptions people have about BEVs and drive higher consideration,” Stropp said.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Eliminating gasoline expenses outweighs range anxiety. Survey respondents who take more than ten road trips annually are more likely to strongly consider a BEV than people who do not take road trips (34% vs. 10%). Additionally, people who commute for more than an hour a day are more likely to strongly consider a BEV than people who do not have a daily commute (35% vs. 9%).
  • People considering a premium brand are more likely to strongly consider a BEV than people considering a mass-market brand (36% vs. 15%).
  • More than a quarter of people considering a BEV list Tesla as their top choice of brand. But only 4% of survey respondents say Tesla is the only brand they will consider. If an alternative offers a lower price, better performance, superior technology, or greater functionality and utility than a Tesla, they will consider it.
  • Nearly a third of consumers cite a lack of information as a reason they’re not considering a BEV (30%).

It is worth noting that consumers who are “not likely” to consider a BEV today are not against the idea of owning a vehicle with an electrified powertrain. The new J.D. Power study finds that 41% of people who are not shopping for a BEV will consider purchasing a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in the next two to four years.

J.D. Power fielded the study in December 2020 and January 2021. Survey respondents included 9,030 U.S. new-vehicle intenders in the market to purchase or lease a new vehicle within 12 months.

J.D. Power is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on February 25, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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