By Michael Boehm, General Manager, Juice Americas
Next year will mark a milestone in the automotive industry, with a record number of EV models anticipated to start entering the market. Everything from the Ford F-150 Lightning (Starting at $40,000) to the Cadillac Lyriq SUV (Starting at $59,000+) is expected to be ready for delivery to enthusiastic customers, some of whom have already made $100 reservation pre-orders. It will be a great start, meeting pent-up demand. The looming question for dealerships, however, will be how to remain profitable during this changing playing field, moving away from revenue-generating, regularly scheduled oil changes and other maintenance services to EVs that claim to be virtually maintenance-free? Is this a threat or opportunity?
We see it as an opportunity, to embrace change and help develop a new generation of EV drivers. To prove to new consumers that switching to EVs won’t be a headache, however, charging has to be as easy as possible. Charging is the mystery element for consumers accustomed to having an abundance of fueling stations always at the ready. Charging stations will benefit from the administration’s infrastructure bill with a designated $7.5 billion toward constructing 500,000 new stations.
Reuters noted there were about 884,000 charging stations in China as of May compared to just about 50,000 in the United States. Contrast this with analysts’ estimates that the U.S. needs 13 million chargers to be able to support the wholesale transition to EV by 2035. President Biden’s goal of 500,000 charging stations will help but it will not fulfill the expected demand.
The next wave of EV owners is quite aware of issues around charging availability. One survey found, “Alongside the worries about the priciness of EVs, 56 percent of respondents who said they are unlikely to purchase an EV in the next decade reported that ‘needing to charge the car too often’ is a major reason for their reluctance”
Range anxiety, however, is not borne out by the facts: the range of electric cars now matches that of combustion vehicles. Secondly, electricity is available everywhere. It just has to be made accessible and usable for charging the EV.
There has to be a change in thinking here. One should not want to transfer old habits to new innovations. Thus, the development of the public charging infrastructure is important, as is the possibility of DC charging – especially at traffic hubs. However, in order to build a comprehensive charging network we have to also make it possible to charge at home, at work, or traveling on the road. A device that can cover all these scenarios, when the EV is parked anyway, is the ideal solution to a thorough charging infrastructure.
New e-Mobility Experts
Why leave the opportunity to be the charging expert for the new EV owners to your local electrician or a big box store when you have the customer’s attention right now? Do customers have range anxiety? Offer them a solution to their worries, and make some extra profit on the way. A 2-in-one portable wall charger is a great way to help alleviate this range anxiety and provide a more flexible charging option. On one hand, plugged into a 240V at-home outlet it charges at the same speed and convenience as a hard-wired wall charger. On the other hand, these chargers can easily be taken on the road, thereby converting any 120V or 240V electric outlet to a driver’s personal refueling station.
Dealers can offer these chargers to new EV consumers providing them a solution for all charging situations – whether at home, on the road or even overnight camping. Rugged, aluminum body chargers will also be attractive to the legions of truck and recreational off-road vehicle drivers who will be switching to EVs. They will want a more robust portable charger that can withstand extremes and offer more than the standard emergency charging cables that come with the vehicle and are not designed for long-term use.
The 2022 market will be a great opportunity for dealers to reposition themselves, not only as salespeople but also as an important contact in terms of e-mobility, thus expanding the customer base and binding customers to their dealership in the long term.
Dealers can support incentives at the federal and state level that further encourage consumers to transition to EVs. Educational emails and other outreach material from dealers can help create more consumer awareness of these incentives and further engage consumers in their respective markets.
At the local level, dealers can also consider leveraging persons in their specific market, persons who generate a positive consumer sentiment, for ads and special events. Local advertising, which, let’s face it, can be pretty generic, will need to evolve to new messages about EVs available at the dealership.
Dealers are already seeing demand for EVs. Once the waiting lists have been fulfilled and models at varying price points begin to roll out, demand will increase further. To compete in this historic, new market a combination of high-quality charger options and accessory products, educational marketing, and support for tax incentives will help dealers close sales. The strategy for the future must be an energetic, proactive approach to the consumer. Those who do so will capture the EV market.
About the Author
Michael Boehm is general manager of Juice Americas, Inc., a subsidiary of Juice Technology AG, a leader in portable charging stations for electric vehicles. An automotive industry veteran, Boehm is responsible for building the team for Juice Technology in the U.S.