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Winning the Hearts and Minds of Electric Vehicle Early Adopters

Ardent Learning
Mar 24, 2021 5:30:40 AM

2021 is a pivotal year for electric vehicles (EVs)Even more EV models will be launched this year than in any prior year – 30 new EV models from 21 brands, compared to 17 models from 12 brands in 2020. Diversity in the EV product mix continues to grow, with the introduction of 13 SUVs, 11 passenger cars, and trucks this year. With most automobile manufacturers committing to replace their entire lineup of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles with EVs by 2035, the time to embrace EVs and EV buyers is now. 

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance and accelerated dealer adoption of digital retailing alternatives. These online processes and procedures are well-aligned with the early adopter personas of EV customers. Most market research on EV consumers predates the pandemic, which accelerated massive shifts in automotive retailing and renewed consumer interest in EVs. Research published in 2019 studied potential battery electric vehicle (BEV) buyers rather than the mass market buyers who purchasedwhich provides an interesting framework for understanding who early adopters will be in 2021. 

For this discussion, we’ll focus on BEV-3 buyers, because they represent the largest potential for growth – and are the most demanding. They own fewer additional vehicles compared to affluent consumers, and a new vehicle for them must satisfy a broader collection of needs. Let’s take a look at some of the defining characteristics of this “non-luxury” market segment: 


Key Characteristics of Potential BEV Buyers 

Generally, these consumers are in their 30s-40s and represent late Gen Xers (41+) and early Gen Y consumers or Millennials (29-39). They are often married with no children or have small families with a combined household income less than $100K annually. They are also the segment most likely to research online prior to purchase, and their loyalty to the same brand as their current vehicle is much lower than average. 

The most commonly researched questions among these EV buyers: 

  • How long does it take to charge the EV? 
  • What is the mileage range of the battery? 

This segment is primarily commuting to and from work during the week, and they use their vehicles on the weekend for short personal trips. Reliability for day-to-day use is of critical importance to this group, with an increasing emphasis on more practical features like AWD, compared to enhanced intelligence technologies like driver monitoring systems. 


Winning in this Segment: Automotive OEMs 

  • Develop multichannel campaigns designed to make non-customers aware of smaller, more affordable models you are introducing 
  • Generate online content about lower ownership costs compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, environmental benefits, and your geographically convenient and reliable dealer network 
  • Develop a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program for gently used and off-lease EVs 


Winning in this Segment: Auto Dealers 

  • Build upon the strengths of your digital retailing efforts initiated by the pandemic, because EV consumers embrace online research, shopping and purchasing 
  • Dedicate one or two of your best sales professionals who connect well with customers online and are comfortable (and enjoy) conducting virtual walkarounds 
  • Invest in training to prepare your staff for the wave of new EVs coming and the differences in the EV customer profile  


Don't miss this important opportunity. Ardent has been partnering with automotive companies and dealers for nearly 30 years. We’ll show you how to take digital retailing to the next level and win with EV Customers in 2021. Contact us today to learn how you can lead the EV charge.  

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