Interview with Alexander Edwards, President, Strategic Vision, USA
Why do people buy electric vehicles and why do they avoid buying EVs today? And what can OEMs do to convince people of buying EVs? Alexander Edwards should know. His research company Strategic Vision carries out studies on buyer Feedback in the automotive sector. We talked to him at the CTI Symposium USA in May which was part of the CTI Automotive Week this year.
CTI: Who are the customers buying electric vehicles nowadays and what are their motivations?
Alexander Edwards: Electric vehicle buyers today are often exceptionally wealthy, married individuals who like to travel the world and do all sorts of things in keeping themselves fit and anything that you might expect luxury buyers to do.
CTI: What on the other hand are major reasons when people don’t buy electric vehicles?
Edwards: People are avoiding electric vehicles today for three specific reasons – 1. The incentive isn’t there for them to be able to get into it. 2. They feel that they are having to make a compromise, they are saying I have to compromise on style, on performance, on comfort of the vehicle, or most often price, and finally the infrastructure doesn’t seem to be there, people are looking at what they can do to fill up their gas vehicles versus electric vehicles and they think it just will take too long and there aren’t enough opportunities for me to be able to recharge my vehicle quickly.
CTI: Which differences in buying BEV’s do you see between the US and Europe for example?
Edwards: People in the US are significantly more against the idea of battery electrical vehicles than they are in Europe and other areas. That’s simply because of a mindset, here in the US. A lot of folks feel that they have a right and are entitled to go anywhere and do anything at any time they want to. And heaven help if the government tries to come in and regulate what they can do and where they can do it, whereas in Europe, as well as other countries, they really have the small community mindset where they are saying, we know that we have to make this work, we are going to get together and make sure the right regulations and taxations are there. So right now with regard to EV adoption in the US there’s a lot more pushback. If we were to look to other countries to see what they are doing, we might be able to find more acceptance here in the US as well.
CTI: What should OEM’s do in order to convince customers?
Edwards: One of the things that OEM’s can do to convince customers to purchase an EV today is really to focus on the performance aspect of the vehicles. One of the reasons why Tesla has found a lot of success when it comes to buzz in the industry is because they sold a sports car with an innovative power train rather than an electrical vehicle that happened to be sporty. That can be the exact same vehicle but the nuance there and they way that it’s position is very different when people feel the torque especially at the starting acceleration of the vehicle, they feel that performance and considering that half of all new vehicle buyers are looking for high levels of performance. And the fact that EV’s can provide better performance than ICE vehicles this is something that if they were to start communicating and showing especially through test drives, we would find to be very effective in getting people converted to buy EV’s today.
CTI: What is the benefit of this congress for your research?
Edwards: One of the things that this congress can be able to learn from our research is that BEV technology isn’t a done deal. It isn’t an inevitability that we all going to compromise unless we focus on a sustainable incentives or ways that people can be able to purchase a vehicle that they don’t have compromise. 2. They have to make sure that there are incentives, that the infrastructure is there and they are able to charge the vehicle and there are enough places for them to do it. And then finally they’re not really making those compromises I mentioned earlier. If I am buying a vehicle, I have to realize I am buying it for mobility, not necessarily to be green or save on fuel efficiency but it really is to get me a place the way that I want to do that whether it’s stylish, performance, comfort etc.
Interview by Andrea Hanninger
Alexander Edwards is President at Strategic Vision, USA. At the CTI Symposium USA 2018 he held a lecture on the topic “Understanding and increasing EV acceptance in the US and abroad”.
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