By: Dave Emig, Senior Research Director; Andy Moylan, Senior Project Director
What came first, the chicken or the egg? This question has fueled a bevy of philosophical discussions over many centuries. The answer to this question is unclear and quite possibly will never be answered, but it will continue to lead to some interesting discussions and be the impetus for critical thinking.
Let’s apply this to the electric vehicle industry. What comes first, the electric vehicle (EV) or the electric vehicle charger? Seems like a silly question to begin with because they are one in the same, right? For the purposes of this article, let’s forget about the standard electrical outlet most consumers have in their garage and focus on the sale of the vehicle.
Typically, when purchasing an electric vehicle, the consumer is given options about what charging unit could be installed at their home, and arrangements are made for it to be placed at the owner’s residence. So to answer the question, with the purchase of an electric vehicle, the consumer gets the charging unit first. But let’s take one additional step back and think about consumer’s consideration of the electric vehicle in the first place.
Previously, word of mouth, the motivation to be environmentally conscious, and tax credits were some of the factors driving purchase. Now, design variations and more information surrounding the technology are the catalyst for increased consideration. Still, it is difficult to take the leap to commit with something that is so important to our daily lives.
The evidence shows that the electric vehicle market is heating up and gaining more momentum. Tesla has made another major splash and is planning on riding those ripples into a boat load of sales. To date, there are over 373,000 pre-orders of the Model 3, which is on the heels of the Model X launch. Many automotive manufacturers are stepping up their EV game: improvements are coming to the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3 is getting more range, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt is expected to be available for consumers to purchase soon, and according to Green Car Reports, Audi just announced a serious commitment to electric vehicles starting with an all-electric SUV in 2018.
What seems to be the biggest barrier to purchasing an electric vehicle is overcoming range anxiety. How does one manage their day and still have the ability to be spontaneous while managing the unexpected, such as heavy traffic or that extra errand that needs to be run? Any anxiety from a myriad of circumstances will not be fully solved by simply adding more range to vehicles. There must be a means to provide consumers with peace of mind for not only the typical day, but for the unforeseen, unplanned events that come with life. So how is this possible?
Morpace recently asked a series of questions as part of its February Omnibus and the results were interesting. For starters, nearly 85% of consumers indicate that they travel less than 50 miles a day (in total) during an average week. Considering this, there are a number of electric vehicle options that would fit the needs of the majority, but there is always the ‘what if’ factor that causes unease, possibly preventing the purchase of an EV.
Currently, one-quarter of consumers cite an interest in considering an electric vehicle, according to our Omnibus. Now the key question: What if charging stations were more abundant at places of employment? Not necessarily the mall or the grocery store, but your place of work. Could that impact consumer acceptability of EVs, and lead toward higher sales?
Of those surveyed in our Omnibus, more than 8 in 10 indicate a level on unawareness when it comes to the location of charging stations in their area, with half being completely unaware and the remainder knowing there are some present, but not certain of the exact location. And when thinking about their place of employment, over 80% of those surveyed indicate there are no charging stations.
Charging stations at places of employment could be an area of great reward for manufacturers given the impact this would have on consumers. Having that safety net, that accommodation to gain back those precious miles needed for the ‘what if’ spontaneous moment, could give consumers the final nudge to take that leap to purchase an electric vehicle, and ultimately benefit manufacturers.
This belief is bolstered by the fact that about 1 in 3 respondents would be more likely to consider an electric vehicle if there was a charger at their place of employment. That repeatable action of going to work each day and seeing a line of open charging stations might encourage consumers to start asking questions and investigate EVs.
So, ask yourself the question…which came first, the electric vehicle charger at work or the electric vehicle?