Evolution and expansion have become the hallmarks of the electric vehicle (EV) market, and all signs point to a continued trend. According to Inside EVs, January marked the 28th month of back-to-back sales gains for plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in the U.S., and Ars Technica reported last month that 2017 PEV sales were up more than 25% compared to 2016, marking their best year ever (a notable feat given that overall new car sales were down).
And now for a little perspective… More than 17 million new cars were sold last year. So, the roughly 200,000 plug-ins that left the lot represent a measly 1% of the market.
What is standing in the way of more rapid growth? Consumers have more options than ever. Want a luxury sports car? Done. How about an economy hatch-back? You’ve got it. What more could they ask for?
This is exactly what Research Into Action explored in real time at the 2017 Roadmap Conference.
What we did:
We recruited focus group participants who had recently visited the Go Forth Electric Showcase and conducted a live focus group, which streamed in real-time to more than Roadmap Conference 200 attendees.
What we learned:
All the focus group participants had come to the showroom to gather information on EVs, their maintenance, and charging stations—and, of course, to test drive the cars.
The focus group posed several questions regarding what participants looked for when car shopping, why they were interested in EVs, the perceived benefits and drawbacks of EVs, and their biggest concerns.
- Most participants said their price point for a new EV fell between $20,000-$30,000. Others said they would even consider spending $40,000 on a new EV, if their range was better. They also noted that financial support such as rebates and federal tax credits, which in 2017 were around $10,000, would make a significant difference in their purchase decision.
- Technical aspects of the cars emerged as a major concern. Participants repeatedly raised concerns about the vehicle range and the longevity of the battery, as well as the vehicles overall driving performance.
- Participants noted design considerations such as trunk space, comfort, and interiors as playing a key role in their purchasing decisions.
- In terms of marketing, all the participants noted they had not seen much in the way of advertising for EVs – Tesla being the exception. They also said that most of the manufacturers seemed to be promoting larger vehicles, such as trucks or SUVs.
Overall, participants seemed to think that EV manufacturers haven’t quite worked out all the kinks, but they are right on the “cusp” of becoming a more viable and appealing option for buyers.
The industry does, indeed, seem to be heading in the right direction. EV prices are dropping as more manufacturers introduce economy models and, despite murky and volatile legislation at the federal level, rebates and tax credits are still in effect.
Watch the full recording