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 6 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 purchased, which 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:
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:
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.
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