Expanding the electric vehicle experience

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Priority steps toward a sustainable EV ecosystem

 Based on the insights that emerged from the Ignition sessions in Los Angeles and Brussels, we propose the following actions to advance the development of a sustainable EV ecosystem.

1. Segment and conquer: EVs offer different consumer value propositions to different market segments. Broader consumer adoption depends on automakers defining the market segments for EVs - and these are likely to be different from the ICE market segments they are familiar with - and reaching them with effective marketing messages.

2. Integrate consumer product marketing insight: the ways that EVs are charged and can be integrated into different aspects of consumers’ lives give them the characteristics of consumer products. Automakers should seek out consumer product-marketing insight to help them segment the market for EVs and develop marketing campaigns.

3. Reinvent auto sales: the traditional dealership model has not been successful in supporting EV sales due to information gaps and competing economic incentives. Moreover, the new generation of auto buyers is not looking for a traditional “bricks and mortar” sales experience. Automakers must engage consumers through social media, learn from them, and create grassroots demand through processes of direct consumer interaction.

4. Deliver the seamless consumer experience: the lack of a seamless consumer experience in buying, financing, charging and maintaining EVs remains a barrier. Utilities, automakers and technology providers must work together to create business solutions that provide the seamless experience that consumers need - and work hard to make consumers aware of them.

5. Move from tax credits to rebates: the main barrier to EV adoption is the higher point-of-sale price of EVs compared with that of ICE vehicles. Government incentives as front-end rebates on the purchase price would be much more effective than tax credits in accelerating adoption.

6. Provide incentives for adoption, cheaply: governments can promote EV adoption even in a period of austerity through nonfinancial incentives. One of the important lessons learned to date is that consumers value and respond to government incentives, such as preferred parking, priority lanes and waived congestion charges for EVs, that cost taxpayers little.

7. Prioritize cities: EVs offer a strong value proposition to support the sustainability agenda of cities worldwide, whether by reducing pollution or enhancing mobility. Cities, therefore, are an important lead market for EVs that can offer an opportunity to scale production and introduce EVs to large numbers of potential buyers.

8. Don’t forget fleets: corporate and government fleets should be prioritized as lead EV markets. Fleets are natural early EV adopters, given their focus on total cost of ownership and predictable driving patterns. Fleets can also provide important testing grounds for solving EV infrastructure issues and helping to scale up EV production. Automakers, utilities, policymakers and advocates for EVs must work with fleet managers to tear down barriers to fleet adoption and develop methodologies for carrying over best practices and lessons learned to consumer markets.

9. Be good, not perfect: faster progress must be made on the standards and regulatory actions needed to enable the EV market, such as revamping utility infrastructure, enhancing driver information and establishing charging interoperability. Policymakers and standard-setting organizations must focus on pragmatic solutions that can be accomplished quickly.

10. Connect EV communities of interest: EV trials and standard-setting processes are taking place around the globe, yet there is no structure for comparing objectives, tracking activities and sharing best practices. Regional EV associations and advocacy groups should establish a virtual clearinghouse of EV initiatives to enable important knowledge sharing among the EV communities dispersed around the world.

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