As new-car buyer personas continue to evolve, connecting with consumers’ emotions and personality is more likely to ignite interest in battery electric vehicles (BEVs). This diverges from the long-standing industry narrative that environmental benefits are what drive BEV adoption, creating a great opportunity for brands to expand their messaging and embrace new customers with a varying mix of values, lifestyles and attitudes.
The environmental and running cost credentials of BEVs are clear, but relatively few car buyers are motivated by such a narrow range of rational criteria. In 2022, 43% of car buyers acknowledged the environmental credentials of BEVs as a benefit, but the same factor ranks only ninth out of 19 in a hierarchy of most important car-buying criteria, thus revealing the environment’s limited role in impacting purchases. Now, there is a deeper layer of emotionally-charged motivations underpinning the decision to purchase a BEV.
Those are the latest findings of the 2022 EVForward Europe in the U.S. and Europe.
“The BEV segment is almost becoming a status symbol for consumers who want to be viewed as fashionable, tech-forward and pioneering,” said Mark Carpenter, managing director in Escalent’s Surrey, UK office who works within the company’s Automotive & Mobility practice. “A fundamental change is happening in the psychological makeup of consumers considering BEVs, and different car buyer psyches are emerging. OEMs need to embrace ‘EV-Joyment’ to celebrate the aspects of BEVs that engage the positive emotions and aspirations of car buyers to trigger the purchase decision.”
European car buyers are becoming more reassured and open to BEVs in 2022, with increases in charging infrastructure, personal awareness, and experience with their peer groups obtaining BEV ownership.
- 48% of survey respondents now believe 21%–60% of car parks and shopping malls have charging points, an increase of eight percentage points from 2021 (at 40%).
- 49% of car buyers have either driven a BEV or feel they know BEVs well (43% in 2021).
- 45% of car buyers know friends or relatives who own a BEV (32% in 2021).
Charging providers can tap into the positive emotions and motivational aspirations of car buyers by shifting how charging infrastructure is designed and positioned. Instead of being simple points of access to charging plugs, charging stations need to become desirable destinations with amenities—such as a café with Wi-Fi, which are the top-two choices for survey respondents—that cater to consumers’ personality and lifestyle desires. This will grow consumer awareness of charging infrastructure and BEV consideration by painting a fuller picture of BEV ownership experiences that align with consumers’ self-image.
BEV sentiment is also improving, with 41% viewing BEVs more positively in 2022, in contrast to 36% with a positive impression in 2021. Creating a hopeful outlook for adoption, 18% of survey respondents say their next car will be a BEV, up from 12% in 2021.