What Car? Electric Vehicle White Paper

What Car? Electric Vehicle White Paper

Manufacturers and dealers need to close the electric vehicle ‘Knowledge Gap’ to boost sales

Electric vehicles (EVs) have finally become part of the mainstream conversation, thanks, in part to the Kia e-Niro winning the What Car? Car of the Year 2019 title.

However, that doesn’t mean all the information around them is accurate or clear. The latest research by What Car? found that confusing or contradicting information on EVs actually creates a ‘knowledge gap’ for buyers researching the tech, which holds them back from considering an EV as their next vehicle.

As part of a new Electric Vehicle White Paper, What Car? examined how 9000 motorists rated their understanding of electric vehicles as they researched the technology over three months.

Buyers rated their initial understanding at 2.7 out of five, rising to 3.4 after 10 days. However, after a month of research, the understanding dropped to 3.3 – suggesting buyers came across potentially confusing or contradicting information. After three months, the average understanding peaked at 3.8.

For comparison, buyers were asked to rate how familiar they were with petrol and diesel cars. They rated their initial understanding at 3.8 – meaning it takes potential new electric car buyers three months of research to be as familiar with the technology as they are with petrol and diesel vehicles.

When asked about their biggest concern regarding EVs, 40% of respondents said they are too expensive to purchase. However, when given the chance to research the cost savings associated with EVs, this fell to 35.6%.

The reason this all matters is that there is a huge number of potential EV buyers in the market who haven’t made the switch because of a ‘knowledge gap’. Our What Fuel? comparison tool, used by 80,000 people, found an electric vehicle is an ideal car for one in 10 drivers, while of the 9000 drivers we polled, 8.4% said they were considering an EV as their next car. Yet the UK market share for EVs is just 0.7% – showing manufacturers are throwing away lots of potential sales by not highlighting the benefits of EVs to buyers.

Previous research by What Car? found third party, independent sources of information such as motoring websites, are the most influential on electric car buyers – with over 70% of buyers using them when researching EVs. As a result of this, in January 2019 What Car? launched a bespoke section of its website on electric car advice, pulling together all of its EV information in one place at www.whatcar.com/electric-cars   

OEMs have a role to play, too. The same survey found 46% of buyers researching electric vehicles visit manufacturer websites. As part of the White Paper, What Car? visited the websites of all 12 major manufacturers selling electric vehicles and reviewed the information available under five categories.** Of all the manufacturers, just two managed to fulfil the five criteria fully.

The same applies to retailers. If a consumer walks into a showroom and knows more about electric vehicles than the sales staff, or if the sales staff have to check information for the consumer, the consumer will switch off and likely walk away.

If you are a manufacturer or a dealer, take a look at your own website and marketing material and ask if you are doing everything to highlight the benefits of EVs? In today’s market place, it’s simply not enough to have a showroom stacked with the latest electric cars – we should be actively educating consumers every step of the way.

To read the full What Car? Electric Vehicle White Paper, visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/d8pdxdhhecxgf7z/AAC8yo0t2dWDGoo1FUVLBg1Ha?dl=0