By Andrew Garberson, Head of Marketing, Recurrent
Electric cars have come a long way and have a long way to go. Perhaps I already knew that going into my session on electric car buyer personas at Digital Dealer in Tampa. While EV enthusiasm likely outpaced EV supply in 2022, it was also clear at the conference that EV literacy must catch up, too.
The session on electric car buyers started with an adoption curve chart. It used “diffusion of innovation” (shown below) to plot market growth from the very first EV buyers on the left through to mass market adoption on the right.
A term called “crossing the chasm” is used to identify the point when something – technology, ideas, etc. – reach the mainstream in their given market. For smartphones, that occurred around 2010 in the US. For electric cars, it is happening between 2022 and 2028 in the US, depending on where you live.
In other words, the time for dealers to develop a plan for electric car sales, service and consumer engagement is right now. But most dealers confessed to me at the conference in May that they have a very, very long way to go.
Where does EV education go from here?
Crossing the chasm, described above, presents an incredible opportunity for local dealerships to support consumers in their own EV education. The next wave of electric car buyers will be looking for help.
“I would say that most people who look at our EV inventory today know more about charging and batteries than our sales teams,” a dealership marketer told me.
As has been the case for generations, car buyers turn to their dealership as a source for information. Whether test driving new models, exploring the latest features or getting advice on the right vehicle for them, people expect for their car dealers to have answers to common questions.
• Why does EV range fluctuate in different weather?
• What amount of range degradation should be expected in 1, 3 or 5 years?
• Are there any local or utility provider incentives available?
• How much does it cost to “fill up” at home?
The good news is that there are resources to help with your education. An industry-leading nonprofit, Plug In America, offers EV certification for car dealers and their team members. The popular program has been around for a number of years.
I also put together a free 8-week intro to EVs for dealership sellers and marketers. Think of it as an EV 101.
• Overcoming the 10 fears of EV buyers
• Curing range anxiety
• Basics of EV batteries and chargers
• Battery degradation essentials
• Charging best practices
• Warranties and battery replacements
• Post-sale engagement and maintenance
• Selling used electric vehicles
Neither of these resources are an exhaustive, complete EV education. But they are a start, something to shorten the learning curve and get you more prepared for the future of electric cars. Because it is coming and I promise that it is closer than most people realize.
About the Author
Andrew Garberson is head of marketing at Recurrent, a company that monitors the battery health of electric cars. Prior to Recurrent, Andrew was an executive at a leading mid-size digital agency, served as an adjunct professor at Chatham University, and contributed to the marketing industry as a frequent conference speaker.