2017 Chevrolet Volt
Although gas prices are rising again, and automakers are investing tons of money into electric cars, consumers are not fully engaged.
Britta Gross, director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy at General Motors explained:
Tesla Model 3
"Consumers adore these vehicles. People love the quietness, the smoothness, the seamless drive. Why don't consumers flock to these vehicles? What's missing? What do we have to do? We're at the point where we have a lot to do."
Range was a substantial barrier at first, but automakers are solving this problem.
Tesla and soon Chevrolet are already making 200 miles of range possible, Nissan and others intend to shortly follow suit. Even Honda Motor's manager of electric sales, Robert Langford said:
"It's really an exciting time going from now to 2020. With all the new product coming out, hopefully, a whole new group of customers to drive electric."
However, he admitted . . . "Barriers are still many."
Langford shared that battery range may not be as much of a problem as charging. Consumers are not educated on charging. They don't know where to charge or don't have a place to charge. Many people charge at home if they live in single family homes and can install chargers, but there are not enough chargers at work or on the road or in apartments or condos. Charger compatibility is also an issue. This causes anxiety for consumers.
GM's Britta Gross believes:
"We have to overpower these consumers. If you don't accompany an infrastructure program, or a vehicle incentive program, with an outreach campaign, you've lost the battle. Everything you do, you have to spend an equal amount of money to talk about it."
The EV segment is very different than traditional auto sales and will take much effort and time to catch on. Dealerships and salespeople are set up to sell ICE vehicles and there is comfort in it. It is hard for dealerships to put time and resources into training salespeople and educating consumers when the vehicle that they are trying to sell makes up less than 1% of the market share. General manager of Audi America, Aaron Cohen said:
"You need a symphony of activity among all the stakeholders."
He includes automakers, electric utility companies, charging companies, federal, state, and local governments and dealerships in the list of players that need to be on the same team. This is a major undertaking and it's not going to happen quickly.