Over the last few
years, the EV market has made impressive gains and doesn’t show any signs of
slowing down. As EVs become cheaper to produce, purchase incentives and vehicle
premiums will become less dominant in the consumer purchase decision. Cost
however, is only one of several factors that play an important role in the
consumer purchase journey. Additional barriers can negatively influence a
consumer’s perception of the EV ownership experience, causing them to continue
buying ICE vehicles.
In a survey
carried out by SBD Automotive (a global automotive strategy consultancy), a lack
of EV charging infrastructure was identified as a major concern by nearly half
of the respondents. While there has been steady growth in EV charging
infrastructure, many customers are finding it both difficult and frustrating to
find a charging station today.
One reason for
this can be observed in the location of the chargers themselves. In the UK, for
example, many charging points can be found on popular roadways, motorways, and service
areas. These points are often part of a wider charging network and are the
result of a partnership between a charge point operator (CPO) and a motorway
services operator. For customers in smaller cities or rural areas away from
these roads, locating charging infrastructure becomes more difficult. The infrastructure
in these areas often consists of individual charging stations – a contrast to
the motorway charging infrastructure that groups several points together. Furthermore,
with minimal signage to indicate their location, these individual points are
often hard to find. In many cases, they are installed in dimly lit spaces such
as indoor parking garages, or on the back side of a retail store – making this
process even more difficult.
Once the user
finds a station, they may encounter further problems related to exclusive charging
networks. These networks, such as Tesla’s Supercharger network, are owned by
OEMs and are often exclusive to their EVs. While these networks are favored among the
OEM’s customers, they can easily alienate or intimidate the potential EV consumer base –
especially those who are uneducated on how EV charging works.
While today’s EV
charging infrastructure may be somewhat limited in the scope of the wider customer
base, work is being carried out rapidly to develop it worldwide. Overcoming
this barrier ultimately requires governments, OEMs, and CPOs to not only install
more charging points, but ensure that these points can be sufficiently located,
accessed, and used by a broad range of customers. As these solutions materialize, the current barrier that EV charging infrastructure presents will gradually become less of a
concern for consumers.
As highlighted in
the first barrier, it is evident that poor customer experiences have the
potential to damage both the perception of EVs and their wider reputation. For consumers
making the purchase decision, negative perceptions of EVs can be even more
harmful and could discourage EV adoption entirely. As part of its consumer survey
on the barriers to EV adoption, SBD Automotive assessed the impact of these
perceptions on the purchase decision.
Figure 1: A graph showing the EV differences in purchase consideration by innovation segmentation.
(Source: SBD Automotive - report 208: Overcoming Barriers to EV Adoption)
This perception suggests
that only early adopters want to buy BEVs, and that there is an increasing lack of interest across subsequent
consumer segments. However, SBD Automotive’s survey (Figure 1) disproves this by
demonstrating a strong, consistent confidence in EV purchase interest across all
early adopters have the most confidence in EVs, with 94% of participants in
this segment stating that they would ‘definitely’ (65%) or ‘probably’ (29%) consider
buying an EV. While hesitancy increases through each following segment, this confidence
remains strong. For example, 82% of participants in the early majority, and 69%
of participants in the late majority, would still consider purchasing an EV. A
small decrease (13%) in the number of ‘yes’ responses between these segments further
illustrates this strength. Even in the laggards segment, 48% of participants were
still open to buying an EV compared to 27% who were ‘not sure’, and 24% who
would not consider purchasing one.
Together, these statistics
indicate that while early adopters are eager to buy an EV, there is an
observable consistency in this eagerness across all consumer segments. This
consistency itself indicates the potential for a broader EV uptake – with the more
hesitant consumers in these later segments potentially waiting on more support
for EVs before making their purchase decision.
Figure 1 demonstrates just one of several falsehoods surrounding EVs that can damage
their reputation among consumers.
Ultimately, dispelling these falsities and removing or mitigating concerns will drive confidence and facilitate EV purchasing. This
education could be provided initially by OEMs and continue at the dealership, allowing
consumers to voice their concerns more directly and develop their confidence in
As more OEMs
announce and release new EVs, and as more measures are put into place by
governments worldwide to promote their use, the prospect of widespread
electrification is drawing closer. However, this can only happen once consumers
are confident enough in EVs to make the purchase decision and commit to these
efforts. As such, it is essential to break down the barriers that are presently
holding consumers back from purchasing EVs. While this insight has covered two
of these barriers, SBD Automotive’s “Overcoming Barriers to EV Adoption” research
report takes a deep dive into many more. Through a global EV survey, key
barriers are identified and intricately analyzed by our EV experts. The report then
identifies a number of best practices that automakers, and the wider EV sector,
can adopt to overcome these barriers and drive EV uptake.