Talking About Electric Vehicles with Customers

Utilities are on the cusp of change. On one hand, efficiency projects are reducing consumption while on the other end new business opportunities are emerging through the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

As new business models develop, utilities are engaging consumers on the benefits of EVs. Historically, the interaction between the consumer and their utility has been around the delivery of electricity, so when a utility promotes an EVs, it needs to do so in a way that is aligned with familiar triggers associated with the experience of car ownership instead of the consumption of electricity.

As utilities work to find the engagement strategy that fits into their marketing. There are steps they can take to ensure a higher degree of effectiveness in the outreach and education. For starters; develop a communication strategy that is centered around user experience instead of electricity. Your lineman may understand amps or kilowatts but your average energy consumer has a vague idea on what that means to a car.

Instead, use phrases that are aligned with the cost to charge an EV. This can include all-in-cost of ownership such as the purchase of the home charging station and the cost of charging the EV at peak and off-peak hours. Some concepts to use or avoid are listed in the diagram below:

Concepts to use

The cost of “filling a tank” is another example that is relatable and can easily be compared to a gas car. Which is a lot simpler than trying to calculate the miles-per-gallon-gasoline-equivalent (MPGe).  MPGe is used to compare the amount of energy consumed based on a distance a gas car takes per hour and its equivalent of electricity and in my opinion not that important because EV’s today generally surpass gas-powered cars in energy consumed. MPGe was introduced in 2010 by the EPA, at a time when EVs were not cost competitive.

Savvy utilities are staying away from concepts and phrases that would more likely confuse consumers instead of informing them. By simplifying it with basic costs and range the EV is a cost-effective alternative to a traditional gas car. To convey reliability and simplicity, the focus needs to be on familiarity and education. EVs are simple and fun, utilities have a role to play in demystifying their consumers on the benefits of adopting EVs.