Despite recent market turbulence, SMMT expects UK sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) to double in 2020 and grow 250% by 2021 – a tripling of market share in three years.
Until recently, manufacturers focused their EV market efforts on niche models targeted at early adopters, but 2020 has seen several mainstream models given the green treatment, including big hitters like the Vauxhall Corsa, Mini and Fiat 500. Soon, exciting new entrants will join, including the Volkswagen ID range, and even an all-electric offering from Porsche.
While there are certainly incentives for brands to push EVs, not least the looming possibility of fines for excessive emissions, the electric revolution is also demand-led. As prices fall, range increases, and charging infrastructure improves, new car buyers are finding EVs ever more viable as an alternative to petrol or diesel. Automotive data science specialist Sophus3 predicts that 11% of consumers in the EU expect to make their next car purchase an EV, up from 6% in 2019. Their latest data also suggests that interest in EVs is recovering at a faster rate than the overall market in the UK.
Yet while the importance of the segment grows in the eyes of manufacturers and consumers, the buying journey for EVs needs closer attention. Quite simply, the needs of an average EV buyer in 2020 are very different from those of their petrol and diesel counterparts. Whereas petrol and diesel vehicles benefit from decades of incremental change, the technology, features, and benefits of EVs are developing at breakneck speed, leaving a consumer education gap in their wake.
How does the EV buying journey differ?
This education gap manifests in the online behaviours that EV buyers exhibit while they are shopping – EV buyers research both more widely, and in more depth, compared to those for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
EV buyers tend to conduct their research widely across the internet, with 92% using independent third-party sites, and are likely to consider, on average, nearly six different vehicles during the research process. Here is the education gap in action: the immaturity of the market means that features and technology may differ wildly between competing vehicles, driving consumers to look beyond price as a determinant of their decision.
And in-depth? EV buyers seek out significantly more information on EV vehicles, during research, visiting five times as many model pages as ICE buyers and spending 27% more time on those pages mostly as a result of the generally low level of knowledge of EV vehicles. IBM suggests that 45% of drivers have “little or no understanding” of EVs. It, therefore, puts a greater onus on experience, with EV buyers twice as likely to take a test drive than ICE buyers.
Supporting the EV buying process
Brands must support EV buyers through education and guidance, correcting misconceptions, increasing the general level of EV knowledge and addressing specific questions and concerns that buyers may have, such as range anxiety, getting their car serviced, and charging infrastructure.
TLA’s independent concierge-centric approach provides the perfect solution. Every TLA lead is qualified through our in-house contact centre, providing the opportunity for consumers to speak with an independent EV expert to guide their purchase before they reach a dealer.
TLA also has reach into the EV market, given our recent agreement with Next Green Car, the UK’s leading green car website. TLA deploy custom-built engagement tools across Next Green Car’s portfolio of electric vehicle-focused review, news, and guide content, with the aim of helping consumers make an informed green car purchase. TLA is also responsible for lead generation from Next Green Car’s search, social and email channels.
Sophus3 suggest that EV buyers are five times more expensive than ICE buyers to convert to sale, but we expect a significantly improved cost per acquisition from TLA leads, bringing it down to a rate similar to ICE buyers. We will do that through our access to in-market EV buyers and by leveraging our concierge service to educate and qualify buyers, allowing dealers to focus on selling.
TLA strongly believe that helping buyers to make informed purchase decisions is essential for the EV segment to prosper.