The mainstreaming of EVs … what’s your take?
As part of my role at Shelton Group, I attend a lot of energy and environmental industry conferences. This spring and early summer has been no exception, and the conferences have lined up in rapid succession.
From Detroit, MI, to Denver, CO, and Portland, OR, I’ve seen plenty of case studies shared, opinions spouted and panel discussions executed. Of course, some of the oldie but goodie topics abounded, but plenty of newer topics have risen to the surface – circular economy, Internet of Things, and the interplay of Big Business and the environment under the new administration. That said, one topic has continually surfaced during this 2017 conference season, no matter if the gathering was focused on energy efficiency or if it had a broader sustainability focus. I’ve seen manufacturers with booths set up showcasing the topic, noticed session agendas dedicated to the topic, heard panel discussions with a variety of viewpoints swirling and even sat in on a case study presentation delivered on marketing campaigns that are currently in market. The topic? The mainstreaming of electric vehicles (EVs).
Which comes first? The charging station or the EV sales?
Back in mid-April of this year, Suzanne blogged on this topic and shared a Shelton Group point of view. Part of what she discusses there is the divide between two schools of thought in the utility industry: install EV charging stations now to prime the pump for EV sales vs. wait until the charging stations are needed based on demand from more EVs taking to the streets. Broadly, the Shelton POV is that the installation of stations paves the way for the social norming of EVs and helps curb one of the top reasons (if not the top reason) that inhibits EV sales – range anxiety.
There are positive signs …
Based on the recent conferences that I have attended, overall, it seems conceivable that the mainstreaming of EVs may be taking a greater hold. For example, one presentation I saw showcased a current utility program that provides a rebate of up to $2,000 when a utility customer purchases or leases a new EV. Additionally, their research into EV purchase motivators confirmed that green does not sell EVs – it’s simply table stakes. What does sell EVs are the same benefits that sell most fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicles – performance, savings on gas over the life of the vehicle, paint choices, interior bells and whistles, etc.
What ensued after the on-stage presentation gave me pause. Multiple audience members commented on reports from dealerships that leases are not being renewed at the anticipated rate, and sales of new EVs are on the decline. This comes even with current model EVs receiving better reviews than their predecessors.
This again made me think … what is the biggest thing holding EV sales back from skyrocketing? Is it the lack of charging stations? Or decreasing tax credits, or the absence of utility rebate programs? New taxes on EVs to compensate for the gas tax that EV owners no longer pay? Relatively lower gas prices? Or, do you have even another thought?
We’d like your take – submit a comment below.
We’ll read through the collected comments and circle back after a few weeks to share what we heard and offer up ideas for how to keep EVs on the road to the mainstream.