Followers of the Electric Vehicle (EV) market are living in interesting times. With Tesla having fueled the early adopter phase and establishing the luxury end of the EV market, EVs are now going mass. Manufacturers such as GM, Ford and Hyundai have anticipated this moment and are marketing to a more price sensitive set of consumers with offerings that approximate ICE price points.
Despite the opportunity of the EV mass market wave, recent news headlines are less than upbeat. Manufacturers have announced production slowdowns and dealerships report rising EV inventories. It is easy to blame both the consumer and EV economics as obstacles in the EV takeoff. But marketing starts to rear its head when considering both the complexity involved in an EV purchase and the amount of consumer education required to address that complexity. Is marketing both the problem and solution for the EV market?
Yes, it is. Let’s first look at the marketing challenge. Compared to ICE vehicles, EVs are still foreign objects. This makes car shopping for an EV a new and different experience than what shoppers are used to. Consumers have a lot of questions. What is the vehicle range? How and where does the vehicle charge? What maintenance is required? Do I need to upgrade my home and buy an EV charger? What incentives and government policies exist to make EV buying and owning financially attractive? What savings can be expected as fuel costs disappear?
With its education function, marketing can answer these questions and demystify the EV buying journey. To their credit, OEMs have delivered on producing the necessary educational content, with GM’s evlive.com being an impressive example. However, that’s only half the battle, since the real effort is left to the already confused shopper. The content is there, but the consumer still has to search and find the answers to their particular questions.
Likewise, with its ability to personalize and serve a matchmaking function between incoming queries and outbound answers, marketing can help accelerate EV car sales. By presenting the relevant content to the right consumer at the right time, car dealerships can showcase information and options that help set consumers on a path to an EV purchase.
Marketing also has the potential to nudge an ICE buyer to an EV buyer and move EV inventories. Imagine a scenario like this: a Hyundai dealership with a large EV inventory targets undecided Santa Fe and Palisade shoppers with messages about the Ioniq 5 SUV, Hyundai’s free home chargers and installation. Or like this: present shoppers searching on fuel economy and value with the merits and savings of EV ownership at the time of purchase and over the vehicle lifespan.
For dealerships to make these matches among potential EV buyers and the particular EVs themselves, they will have to embrace advanced technologies. Traditional CRM systems do not allow for this level of buyer profiling and laser-focused content integration that is designed to appeal to that buyer on an individual level message after message. However, affordable investments in AI and automation that integrate easily with existing CRMs will get dealers to this place. And when dealers make this jump, they will be able to take advantage of this mass EV wave. They will put their dealerships on the map as the places to buy EVs, so that as we get closer to the day when EV ownership matches or even outpaces ICE sales, those dealerships will be the victors.