Circle Insights

Driving a better understanding of Electric Vehicles

Glen Lowis

Rapid growth in Electric Vehicle (EVs) sales in recent years (180% YoY in 2020), aided by strict government emissions targets for 2030 and substantial investment from automotive manufacturers, suggests that UK consumers are all set to go along for the electrified ride. However, even as EVs now account for 6.6%* of the overall UK car market (Autocar 2021) and, 9% of our recent survey audience already own one, the gap between the perception and the reality of owning and driving an EV will need to be bridged before they become an automatic consideration. In order to capitalise on the increasing demand for EVs, companies in the automotive sector – whether manufacturer, service or utility provider – need to be able to identify and address the unique concerns of different consumer audiences.

In our previous blog “Understanding Differing Consumer Attitudes on the path to EV adoption ”, we explored how attitudes to EVs differ amongst CACI’s Acorn  classifications of the UK Population. However, going electric is more of a lifestyle change than simply buying your next car and factors such as battery size and range, where you live and, the availability of charging infrastructure are all key considerations. Our survey allows us to compare the perceptions of those who don’t yet own an EV with those who do, so how does the reality of going electric live up to the promise (or threat)?

There was little separating owners from non-owners when it came to the key advantages of driving an EV, suggesting that manufacturers and advocates have done a good job of selling the dream.

*Includes sales of battery electric vehicles only, excludes plug in hybrids.

While only 28% of owners highlighted lower servicing costs as a benefit (compared to 33% of non-owners), this was reversed when it came to fuel/charging costs, which 71% of owners see as a benefit (compared to 69%).

The biggest discrepancy in response, related to EVs producing less noise pollution. Only 41% of non-owners recognised this as a benefit, whereas 59% of owners enjoyed the quieter ride their EV gave them (and those around them).

Non-owners tended to be more sceptical of the disadvantages of owning an EV, perhaps as a result of negative press and a limited understanding of their mobility requirements. Take range anxiety, or concern that an electric battery won’t provide enough charge for drivers to get from A to B without needing to stop for an extended period to recharge. 55% of non-owners were concerned by range and when coupled with worries over the number of public charge points (62%), it all sounds very doom and gloom.

But compare that with the perceptions of owners, where only 36% worry about running out of charge and 40% about the access to public charge points and it does start to sound more manageable. Generally, today’s EVs can cover a range between 150-300 miles and the latest Zapmap figures (April 2021) show there are more than 23k public charge devices at almost 15k locations in the UK.

Whether owners or not, respondents across all Acorn categories believe the biggest advantage of an EV is the reduced air pollution. And while cost of purchase is still a concern, it should be addressed as more EVs enter the market and second-hand vehicles become available. Knowing which benefits to promote and how to ease the concerns around perceived disadvantages is critical to delivering the right messages to the right audiences.

At CACI, we’re helping our clients to drive the electric revolution

Whether using an off-the-shelf customer segmentation like Acorn, a bespoke approach based on first party data alone or a hybrid solution combining elements of both, driving engagement from your audience will depend on your content and messaging. It’s clear that individual motivations for purchasing an EV will need to be exploited, while more importantly, concerns regarding owning one, will need to be addressed head-on.

It’s widely agreed that the purchase consideration period for an EV is substantially longer than for a new petrol or diesel model. So, it’s important to be able to identify which purchase phase an individual is in – awareness, consideration, purchase – to understand what information and content they’ll need to progress through what could be a longer journey than normal. To do that, CACI creates detailed contact strategies that allow brands to nurture their audiences until they’re ready to convert.

We worked closely with EDF Energy to identify which of their customers might already own or be likely to purchase an EV. By using CACI’s Acorn data and TGI profiles, overlaid onto their customer segments, we were able to design and deploy a series of highly targeted campaigns to upsell their EV tariffs.

More recently, our Data Science team have created a ‘propensity to buy EV’ model that has enabled Mazda to target the best audiences for their new all-electric MX-30. Through our Strategic Consulting and Campaign Engagement teams, we have delivered tailored campaigns and engaging content to the best audiences.

The innovative approach taken by CACI to launch our pivotal model, particularly the impressive use of data in forming the customer journey, has led to results that speak for themselves.

James Crouch, Customer Insight/Digital Transformation Manager, Mazda

Speak to us if you have any questions or want to learn more about our survey results.

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Glen Lowis