Although it is too soon to draw firm conclusions from the huge changes we have witnessed over the course of the pandemic, it’s equally clear that at least some of the ways in which we live, work and travel will likely change permanently as a result of recent experience. It is hard to believe, for example, that the whole world is quietly going to return to the daily routine of the commute and office life, having spent a year or more working — usually pretty successfully — from home.
For our cities, a lot depends on whether, and how quickly, people lose their fear of public transport and are willing once again to board buses, trams, trains and subway networks. A permanent decline in the popularity of public transport would be a major headache for city planners everywhere.
The prospect of a boom in car sales, however — especially if it is centered on increasingly mainstream EVs — looks on the face of it to be good news for OEMs and dealers. But the question then becomes, who wins the battle for the green consumer? Next-generation products entering the market, with greater range and other more desirable features, will play a part. Overcoming those lingering concerns over cost and range will be a challenge for OEMs and dealers: total cost of ownership makes EVs look like a much better financial prospect than ICEs, but will require some creative thinking from an industry that has spent years persuading consumers to buy new cars on the basis of low monthly lease payments.
The information gap extends beyond finance, as confusion over the challenges of charging and even the perceived performance of EVs shows. Both industry and government might be well advised to learn from the effectiveness of vaccine hesitancy programs during the pandemic and put more effort into EV education messaging that really lands to help reassure potential buyers they are making the sensible — as well as planet-positive — choice.
More EVs also means greater competition from new entrants, many of whom do not have — and do not need — large dealer networks to service the customer. Direct sales, online purchasing and new ownership models will become increasingly the norm to keep cost of sales down and market share up for established players, developments we will cover in more detail in a forthcoming article.
But the overall message from the survey is clear: more consumers than ever are now sold on the sustainability benefits of EV ownership and are ready to join the club. The winners will be those who can offer them membership on the most affordable, user-friendly and reassuring terms.