2
Mar

The Challenge of Selling Electric Vehicles

By Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Vice President

While automotive manufacturers continue to push forward with electrified plug-in vehicles in the United States, an important question begs to be answered: Who is going to buy them?

According to Morpace’s 2016 Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer EngagementTM (PACETM) study, more than one-third of current gasoline-powered vehicle owners plan to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. While this shows high upside potential for EVs and Plug-In EVs, further analysis shows that consumers may not be completely comfortable making this leap from gasoline quite yet. In some sense, electrified vehicles are outside of most consumers’ comfort zone.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Looking at data from the PACE study and leveraging our powertrain experience, we see that consumers prefer technologies that follow the GEMO principle—Good Enough, Move On—and prefer the least change to their lifestyles as possible. Technologies that offer both of these attributes include Hybrid EVs, turbocharged gasoline-powered vehicles, and the conventional internal-combustion engine. Automotive manufacturers have made significant strides in improving the fuel economy of gasoline-powered vehicles and, for a significant number of consumers, the fuel-savings realized by these technologies—and the lower incremental price charged for them over electrified powertrains—provides a “good enough” level of performance and efficiency. Further, neither of these technologies requires consumers to install re-charging equipment at their home, be at the mercy of infrastructure limitations when looking to re-charge away from home, or worry about other issues related to range anxiety. If you run low on gasoline, one can almost always find a refueling station nearby; for electrified vehicles, ease of finding re-charging stations is still the exception not the rule.

Not Motivated to Change

Further, the lack of a major market event is curtailing interest in electrified vehicles among mainstream vehicle buyers. Specifically, fuel prices in the U.S. are not driving consumers to consider electrified vehicles at an accelerated rate. In fact, the lower prices we have enjoyed in the U.S. have resulted in the opposite effect.

According to the PACE study, today’s national gasoline prices are below the price consumers have indicated is low enough for them to consider a less fuel-efficient, larger vehicle. This is one explanation for the market shift we are seeing away from sedans to SUV/CUVs and Trucks. In fact, gasoline prices would have to reach $5.20/gallon for the average consumer to consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle than what they have now—nearly $3.00/gallon more than today’s average.

But… There is Hope!

While the above commentary suggests a less-than-pretty future for electrified technologies, this certainly does not have to be the case. Perhaps the most important finding from the PACE study is that virtually all current owners of PHEVs or EVs will remain an electrified vehicle owner in the future. Once consumers move away from gasoline-powered vehicles, they are extremely unlikely to go back to them. However, a daunting challenge is ahead of automotive manufacturers as they need to not only offer electrified vehicles in the right package and at the right price, but they also need to rely on a dependable and comprehensive infrastructure to support these vehicles on a mass-market level.

It will certainly be exciting to see how electrification strategies play-out in the coming years.

More
14
Sep

For Most Americans, Being “Mobile” Still Requires a Personal Vehicle

For Americans, Being "Moble" Still Requires a Personal VehicleBy: Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Vice President

How do you get from point A to point B? Given that 4-in-10 consumers believe their primary mode of transportation will be different five years from now than today, the answer to this is going to become increasingly complex.

The goal of the Morpace MOVETM Study that was recently fielded and is now available as a syndicated study is to help answer this question. We surveyed more than 3,000 consumers across eight U.S. metropolitan markets and uncovered some interesting consumer insights about the role of transportation and mobility in this new “Sharing Economy.”

Consider:

  • Overall, more than two-thirds of respondents would have their ability to get around strongly impacted by not owning their own personal vehicle.
  • Although ride-sharing services are currently being used at a greater rate than car-sharing services, they are reserved for “occasional” use and not relied on as every day transportation.
  • Despite lower levels of vehicle ownership, Urbanites have a stronger emotional attachment to their vehicle than Suburbanites—even going so far as to give their vehicle a name.
  • Finally, fewer than one-third of respondents feel that alternative mobility solutions are practical for them. After all, consumers do not see any other option as convenient as owning a primary vehicle in the U.S.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise. For decades, vehicles have represented freedom for many Americans. The national highway system has made it feasible to get from state to state, where driving long distances for work or play is more common than in other parts of the world.

Among the many findings in this study is the idea that the majority of consumers clearly feel that having their own vehicle is necessary. They may not use it every day, as other results from the Morpace MOVETM Study show us, but when they need their vehicle, THEY WANT IT.

The study also gives us ideas for how and when personal vehicles are used compared to other forms of transportation. Public transit, particularly in urban areas, does (and will continue to) play a role, perhaps based most on convenience and cost. One-half of respondents have access to public transportation within one mile of their residence. Still, public transportation comprises just part of the mobility puzzle for Americans today.

Morpace MOVETM found that eBike, shared bikes, and car-sharing modes show the greatest potential increase in spend in the next one to three years. But there are times that Americans want to get where they want, when they need to get there. So even for those living in some of the country’s most densely populated communities, nearly all respondents use their own vehicle at least a couple times per month. And three-quarters of current vehicle owners are planning to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next five years.

We may now be part of the “alternative mobility” movement in the U.S. Yet, the value and importance of a personal vehicle remains high for Americans because of that sense of freedom it provides – no matter where you live in this country.

Other findings and insights are available through our Morpace MOVETM Study and you can learn more by clicking here.

More