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Range anxiety, acquisition costs, insecurity regarding charging times and charging infrastructure: These are reasons often named to explain the low uptake of electric vehicles, that falls short of the expectations of OEMs world wide – despite of a growing ecological awareness amongst car buyers, attractive governmental incentives and more and more advanced e-cars. These being valid and strong reasons, however, recent studies indicate that there seems to be a second dimension to the problem with selling e-cars – which is a fundamental mismatch between the e-car buyer journey on the one hand and the e-car seller journey on the other hand. Addressing this structural, sales-related challenge will enable OEMs and NSCs to develop powerful strategies to increase e-car sales, accelerate the overall sales process and gain loyal e-car customers for an electric future. In this article, we will give you an overview about the state of the art regarding the challenging relation between dealers and customers when it comes to e-car sales – and show how OEMs and NSCs can overcome them. While doing so, we are going to put a special focus on the two following interrelated sides:

  • Firstly, an information gap, making it hard for customers to make well-informed decisions and thus making it hard to decide for an e-car.
  • Secondly, the incentives and motivations of sales people, that seem to make e-car sales more challenging than it actually has to be.

THE INFORMATION GAP

The information gap in e-car sales is a challenge for OEMs and NSCs in all phases of the car buying process.

Let’s start with considering the customer and his struggle to make a truly informed purchase decision. A recent study from Capgemini*, called “Electric cars: At the tipping point?” has investigated the information gap in great detail, via an online survey amongst 762 participants in Germany, the US, and China.

All participants were seriously interested in buying an e-car and were asked to evaluate the challenges regarding getting relevant knowledge about e-cars and barriers to e-car ownership. The study found that in all three crucial stages for a good customer experience – the interest phase, the purchase phase, and the ownership phase – customers indeed experienced strong difficulties to get the right information regarding various e-car related questions and concerns from salespeople, OEMs, and via online sources like dealership and manufacturer websites at the right time.

The interest phase The information transfer was perceived as deficient especially in this initial, highly sensitive stage of the customer journey. Only 47 % of participants have responded that they felt well informed about e-cars, only 9 % felt very well informed. The participating customers especially felt that they lacked important information about e-car batteries, about the availability of charging equipment, and about the range of e-cars. Regarding the information sources, the respondents experienced a lack of information pretty much everywhere, in the dealerships as well as on online channels. This gives a strong hint already to one of the causes of slow e-car sales: When customers plan to buy an expensive good such as a car, they want to make well informed purchase decisions and want to have a good feeling that they have made the right, truly educated choice. And customers who do not feel well informed about e-cars will rather choose the seemingly “safer”, meaning more informed, option, and purchase an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car – even though they were actually ready to go for the e-car.