OEMs must make efforts to educate EV buyers
In its embrace of electric vehicles, the world has entered the on-ramp – but highway speed is still a long way off.
Adoption of electric vehicles increased by 80% last year; Yet globally, electric vehicles accounted for just 7.2% of car sales in the first half of 2021 – and in North America, just 3% of cars sold in the same period were electric.
Global automakers are playing a unique role in the adoption of electric vehicles. Consumers have confidence in cars made by major original equipment manufacturers, as evidenced by a recent McKinsey study in which nearly 80% of buyers in the United States and Germany said they would rather buy their vehicle electric from an established car manufacturer.
Still, people have concerns about electric vehicles, and in many cases automakers are in the best position to address them.
The credibility of car manufacturers has increased lately. A recent study found that Ford, Tesla, Toyota and BMW rank among the world’s most trusted brands – the first time in two years that an automaker has made the list. With their pulpit firmly in place, OEMs must counter the myths and misconceptions that are slowing the transition to electric vehicles.
At the top of the list of myths to overcome is the question of scope. Potential owners wonder if electric vehicles have the range to get from one charging station to another. However, the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, in its 2020 report, determined that the average range of an electric vehicle has increased to 250 miles (403 km) on a single charge. , up from 68 miles (110 km) in 2011. Range anxiety can, in a few cases, be justified, but not as much as people think.
Another concern is battery reliability. Over the past decade, the performance of electric vehicle batteries has improved dramatically and now exceeds that of the average smartphone. Electric vehicle battery management technology, a combination of hardware and software, governs how batteries charge and discharge.
Modern EV batteries are excellent at defending their underlying structure and chemistry against the varied charging habits of consumers, making them very reliable over the long term.
Many potential buyers think electric vehicles won’t perform as well on the road as conventional gas-powered vehicles. Yet statistics prove that electric vehicles win in virtually every performance category, including acceleration, cornering and braking. The typical electric car, in other words, is fun to drive.
Perhaps the most nagging question is that of the charging infrastructure. The chicken and egg aspect of electric vehicle adoption has so far made the rate of deployment of public charging stations disappointing. The adoption in November of the Law on Investment and Employment in Infrastructure, however, gives a major boost to this situation.
The law includes $7.5 billion for public electric vehicle charging equipment, which is expected to increase the national total from 43,000 currently to more than 500,000 over the next eight years.
Education is the key
OEMs have the means, as well as the obligation, to debunk the myths of electric vehicles and, in doing so, help accelerate our planet’s transition to an electric future. The challenge is not one of infrastructure or technology, but of education. A good place to start demystifying electric vehicles is the charging issue.
To truly embrace electric vehicles, consumers need to understand that “fueling up” an EV is not the same as filling up an ICE vehicle. Like smartphones, electric vehicles need to be regularly “recharged” while drivers go about their normal lives. Since the average American driver drives only 30 miles a day, routine charging is a quick and easy task.
A variety of charging options, including solar-powered charging units that can be deployed without connecting to the national energy grid, will go a long way to overcoming driver concerns.
Once people understand that using an electric vehicle is more fun, cheaper, more convenient and, of course, better for the environment than ICE alternatives, adoption will increase. Yet decades-old habits are hard to break.
With the marketing resources of global automakers behind this effort, the public will have the opportunity to experience the enormous benefits of electric vehicles – and sales will kick into high gear.
Desmond Wheatley (photo above, left) is President and CEO of Beam Global, a clean technology company that provides renewable charging infrastructure solutions for electric vehicles, energy security and disaster preparedness.