The convergence of rising fuel costs, consumer attitudes in a post-COVID world, and the need to combat climate change are setting the stage for an EV revolution in the next 5-10 years.
California set an aggressive goal to ban gas powered vehicles entirely by 2035 and is calling for 35% of new cars and light trucks sold to be zero emissions starting in 2026. The auto industry is addressing this shift and major manufactures such as General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, and Toyota are increasing EV and hybrid product lines over the next 5 years. The major players have stated their intention to go “electric-only,” even if it takes 15 years or longer to do so.
There is no question there is a growing buzz on the EV market, but U.S. consumers have still been relatively slow to switch to greener transportation. Although adoption rates in the U.S. are growing, EV’s still only made up 9.7% of the car sales market in 2021, according to KBB.
Social media data provides strong evidence of potential growth, offering clues to the barriers of entry, as well as motivators for conversion.
Based on Meta’s February 2022 research report, global English-language posts about EV’s during the pandemic increased 238% on Facebook, with 42% of prospective auto buyers now looking into purchasing an electric vehicle. Meta’s report highlights a number of factors driving consumer behavior, and although these prospective buyers are “environmentally conscious,” concern about the environment lags behind their motivation to actually purchase an electric vehicle.
If the automotive industry, as well as the energy industry can’t lead with an eco-friendly message, what are the most effective ways to market EVs?
- Focus on practicality – Consumers are aware that EV’s are more expensive than many gas-powered counterparts. In addition to significant tax-saving incentives and eliminating the cost of regular gasoline purchases, most people do not realize that EV’s are also cheaper to maintain. Battery life and charging convenience are other factors to consider, but there’s a significant movement to strengthen infrastructure to support more EVs on the road.
- Lean into the performance – Have you ever driven an EV? They are extremely fun to drive and much different than a gas-powered engine. If you’ve ever experienced taking a 4-cylinder car onto the onramp of a busy highway, then anxiously waited for the car to kick into gear, do yourself a favor and test drive an EV. In addition to the horsepower, the reliability/less maintenance factor appears to be an untapped key selling point. EV’s typically require less maintenance than conventional fuel vehicles because there are fewer moving parts and less fluids. Brake wear is significantly less due to regenerative braking.
- Community is king – It comes as no surprise that social media and social influencers are important players in the EV market. Meta’s February 2022 research report included a commissioned survey of 10,000 users that listed current EV owners as the most trusted source of EV information. When researching EV features and consumer feedback, social media sites such as YouTube and Reddit offer far more robust information than any auto manufacturer website.
It’s no wonder that the largest EV manufacturer in the world (Tesla) does not advertise. They have a large community of influencers and enthusiasts that help propel the brand. Their community is strong and provides valuable insight about what their consumers want from their vehicle. The auto industry, as well as the energy industry will be wise to listen to these conversations.