Have Plug, Will Travel – The Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) Revolution Has Arrived

By: Artem Violety, Vice President, Automotive

The “Automotive Revolution” has arrived – not with a bang, but with silence. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) – with their emission-free, high-torque benefits – have already become ubiquitous on the streets of the world’s largest cities.

Injected into the consciousness by Tesla, which made BEVs cool and sporty while boosting their range between charging cycles, BEVs are finding their way into the hands of a growing number of consumers. In 2018, more than 2.1 million new car buyers around the world chose battery power – motivated by energy-consciousness, the cool factor, or simply being the early adopter for new technologies.

At the same time, it’s still unclear who will be the target buyer for the new generation of BEVs. Though actor Tom Hanks once famously and proudly proclaimed that he drives a BEV “to save America,” such altruism is not universal, especially when it comes at a premium.

Also, manufacturers are still rolling out BEVs that are “less than” – forcing compromises that some members of the car-buying public may feel are simply not worth it. Suffice it to say, finding the balance between actual driving needs and current BEV capabilities will be key to widespread adoption of BEVs.

Among the questions that must be answered satisfactorily for the public to broadly accept BEVs into their lives:


What do I have to do differently to drive a BEV?

Tesla aside, many of the current generation of BEVs have required compromises that aren’t always palatable to a public that is well served with current products. BEVs tend to have unusual, polarizing styling cues, and are small in stature, compromising passenger and cargo space for the sake of efficiency. Additionally, fully committing to a BEV means that drivers will have to refine their pedal-stomping, race-from-red driving habits to optimize the range on a charge.

Manufacturers seem to be heeding the public’s desire for BEVs that blend in. Hyundai’s Kona crossover SUV and the remodeled Nissan Leaf have been styled in the ilk of more traditional offerings – and have been met with accolades as a result.


Where do I plug in?

Today, there are more than 67,000 charging stations across the United States, with more opening daily. But there are 168,000 gas stations, which means drivers will likely have to cover significant ground to find a place to “charge up.” Though consumers will get the best charge via a dedicated, proprietary charging connection, many of today’s BEVs can be charged in a pinch (albeit slowly) through typical household current.

Of course, you can install a fast charger in your own garage; the national average cost for installation is around $1,200. For many, charging at home is one of the greatest benefits of having a BEV.


How far can I drive on a full charge?

Though this has improved significantly, there’s still a way to go. GM’s first fully electrified vehicles, which hit roadways in the early 1990s, needed a charge every 70 to 80 miles – barely enough for the daily in-town grind, and certainly too stingy for road warriors. Today’s mass market BEVs can cover about 200 miles between plug-ins, and some newer products are even promising 400 miles.


I can fill my gas tank in three minutes – why can’t I charge as fast?

Charging technologies, though improved, still haven’t leveled the playing field with fossil-fueled counterparts. The typical home charger can only muster a full charge every 6-8 hours; and fast chargers in the wild can cut that to just a couple of hours (Tesla’s Supercharger technology cuts the full-charging time to just 30 minutes). New battery-charging technologies are being tested that will reduce the charging time to 15 minutes, but it’s important to note that both battery and charging infrastructure will have to be modified to deliver the benefits.


Will prices come down?

This is a function of several factors – improved battery technology as well as government rebates and tax credits certainly will help, but consumer adoption will have the biggest downward pressure on price. It’s truly a chicken-and-egg paradigm – volume will ultimately drive discounts. Consider that the major manufacturers are spinning out millions of gas-powered cars each year – if BEV sales comprise only a small percentage of that total, you have to pass along more of the manufacturing and research charges to the consumer.

That said, more than half of US BEV sales in 2018 were racked up by one car model – the Tesla Model 3. This car managed to double the market while only being out for half the year. What drove its sales success was its increased range – up to 300 miles on a charge – for a price, around $40,000, that was in the ballpark for most luxury sedan consumers.

Are you looking to better understand the wants and needs of the potential BEV-buying public? We are continuing to do innovation research in electrification consumer wants, and always happy to help. Reach out to me, Artem Violety, and I will be happy to discuss any questions you may have and how Market Strategies InternationalMorpace can help you reach your stakeholders.


How to Develop an Ongoing Dialogue with Customers That Drives ROI

By: Richard Clarke, VP, Head of Insight Communities


Insight Communities: A Proven Solution to Customer Insight with Serious ROI

This is the era of give your customers what they want or risk losing their attention or favor. Customer research is increasingly important to provide your company with the information it needs to maintain and attract happy customers. One challenge companies often face is the cost of implementing a reliable way to engage with their customers to drive insight that also provides a return on investment (ROI). Insight Communities are a highly effective and reliable way to engage with your customers and have been proven to drive positive ROI.

Insight Communities are an online research solution that is used to consistently engage with and provide insight on the desires and needs of your customers, stakeholders and shareholders. These communities are built to help companies answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, drive advocacy for their brand. Insight Communities are organizational assets that both inform business decisions and create brand advocacy among members.

Breaking Down the ROI of Insight Communities

There are many ways that the ROI can be measured—consider the cost savings of:

  • QUICKER reaction time to customer feedback and demand—what is the short- and long-term savings of rapidly reacting to the situation or knowing your customers’ buyer journey and pain points?
  • Launching the RIGHT product to market at a FASTER pace—how much does speeding up the development cycle and ensuring the RIGHT solution save?
  • Making more informed/ACCURATE BUSINESS DECISIONS—what is the cost savings of NOT doing the wrong thing or validating the decision (risk aversion)?

Forrester Consulting completed a Total Economic Impact™ study on the ROI of Insight Communities to clients. In addition to the cost efficiencies and speed value propositions of Insight Communities, Forrester quantified the financial value of continually engaging with members in a community. The highlights include:

  • $1.7M business value from increased customer insight
  • 590% ROI
  • $546K incremental profit and $4.7M increased sales from community members
  • 39% increase in average order value and 70% lower churn rate from community members
  • 75% reduction in cost compared to traditional market research methodologies
  • 4–6 times faster speed to results

This reaffirms that Insight Communities not only provide fast and efficient consumer insight but also drive business action that results in incremental sales and profit for organizations.

These are just some of the reasons that organizations are implementing communities. The client stories about the impact of an ongoing Insight Community are powerful and continue to prove the short- and long-term ROI. Shifting the focus to consumer engagement is resulting in hundreds of organizations realizing significant returns and outcomes.

A Proven Solution for Customer Engagement

Five years ago, Insight Communities were more of a niche solution or emerging technology, but according to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report (GRIT Q3/Q4 2018), 80% of respondents stated that Insight Communities are either in use (59%) or under consideration (21%). This has led GreenBook to believe that Insight Communities are now a mainstream solution:

“Online Communities and Mobile First Surveys continue to lead the pack as formerly emerging methods that are now in mainstream use.” (GRIT Q3/Q4 2018)

Ultimately, these two pieces of evidence indicate that Insight Communities are not only a solution that spreads efficient business insight across an organization but also an asset that drives revenue and profitability—thereby attaching real-world ROI to the value of the asset.

Contact me to learn more about how Insight Communities can become your most powerful asset.


How Telematics and Research Exposed a Driving Lie

How Telematics and Research Exposed a Driving Lie

By: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President of Automotive Growth & Innovation


Human nature and free will are the worst enemies of research. I found this to be particularly true recently during a groundbreaking study which, unintentionally, discovered the following: Drivers, when questioned about their driving habits, will invariably lie about their adherence to the law.

To be fair – we don’t necessarily think the study participants intended to lie about their driving habits; instead, much the same way that an angler recalls their catch to be bigger than it actually was, these drivers tended to recall a better self-image of their doppelgangers behind the wheel.

But first, some context: This past winter, researchers from Market Strategies InternationalMorpace had the chance to partner with three very bright Michigan State University (MSU) students who were working towards their M.S. in Business Analytics. As part of their Capstone project, these students were required to work on a real-world, big data project prior to graduation.

We saw a dual benefit to the students’ partnership – we were working on a project that required the analysis of a large amount of vehicle telematics data from both passenger and commercial vehicles, and we needed the help! But for these students – who will soon be on the job market – it was a valuable way to help them understand a mega-trend in employment.

According to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trend (GRIT) report, companies are on the hunt for new skill sets to meet the demands of a rapidly changing marketplace. Further, the report found that data analysts and data scientists are in high demand. The MSU program is dedicated to preparing young talent for the future of connected devices, and for the future of mobility by partnering with companies who are also preparing for a new generation of consumer engagement and business models.

With our team assembled, we set out to understand the relationship between self-reported driving behavior collected via an online survey, and observed driving behavior collected via an onboard telematics device.

As researchers, we know there are limitations associated with every research project, and there is an array of reasons why participants don’t, or can’t, provide accurate responses.  Of course, we design research projects to minimize limitations, but it is impossible to account for all factors that may influence research findings. As such, telematics offers a rare opportunity, through technology, to better understand the relationship between self-reported and directly measured behavioral data.

Through the comparison of telematics data collected from 130 passenger vehicles against self-reported data collected from an online survey, the researchers and MSU students learned something surprising –the actual driving patterns of more than half (55 percent) of participants did not match their self-reported tendencies.

While we expected a degree of mismatch between the telematics and self-reported data, we, honestly, didn’t expected half the sample to be wrong. We also observed that men were more likely to misreport – both in stating they had an aggressive driving style but actually were passive, or self-reporting they were passive when they actually were aggressive.

We don’t believe our participants intentionally lied. Instead, we believe that a case of “social desirability” bias – the tendency for people to over-report “good” behavior and under-report “bad” behavior – was at work here. Another explanation may be something called “compromise effect.” This is a result of the tendency to choose the middle option, rather than options on the extremes, when presented with choices. This also can happen when options are not clearly stated, or are vague. Though we believed we had provided three clearly-written descriptions of driving styles to choose from, and while we put considerable effort into crafting these descriptions, we perhaps didn’t entirely hit the mark.

So what does this mean for survey research? While using data from a connected device – in our case, a vehicle – may not be possible for every research project, as an industry, we need to take advantage of enabling technologies that will allow us to better understand the extent of the gap between intended and actual behavior, where feasible or appropriate. I do not believe we will be able to forgo engaging with consumers to solely rely on passive data. But, we certainly can complement self-reported feedback with observed behavior for more confident business decisions.

If we at Market Strategies International-Morpace can be of assistance to you in conducting this type of analysis, please reach out to me: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President of Automotive Growth & Innovation