Jérôme Faissat 13th Jun 2018 4 Min Read
As electric cars are appearing everywhere and we’re definitely heading towards all-electric transportation, the adoption could be much faster. Why? lack of knowledge, market inertia and education.
Yes, there are public charging stations. yes, more people have a charging station at home. But yet it’s not enough. It will be enough when charging stations will be abundant: read “everywhere”. How convenient would it be if all hotels, motorway services, airports, exhibition centres, shopping centres, supermarkets had a lot of charging stations? I’ll be really comfortable when all my friends have a charging station, so I can charge at theirs. How great would it be if all workplaces had charging stations? how great would it be if my employer includes a charging scheme as a benefit? You don’t even have to wonder, you know that there’s a charging station everywhere you might stop. This is the goal of a true charging infrastructure.
I love mystery shopping. It’s a very powerful method to gain insight from your partners, your competitors or even your own company. I like to walk into some dealerships and get a feel of the experience and the knowledge that the salesmen have about electric cars. It varies from one dealership to the other and from one brand to the other. However, the vast majority of salesmen have a lack of knowledge of electric cars and the whole electric ecosystem, including charging. Once I’ve been through the technical questions about the battery size, range, speed, etc…, my key question to the salesman is: “great I love the electric car but how do I charge it?”. I get some decent answers but most of the time it ranges from: “You can find a charge point on the internet” to “you can use the granny cable for fast charging” or (pointing at their charging partner dummy) “give these guys a call”. As a prospect, charging is as important as the car itself. An expert needs to tell me that I can choose from a range of charging stations, that charging is easier at home and that I don’t have to worry about the range. If I’m not entirely convinced, why should I go electric? The knowledge of the dealership is key to remove objection to sales.
A few manufacturers have released successful hybrid or full-electric model: Mitsubishi with the PHEV, BMW with the i3, Nissan with the Leaf and Tesla with the S and X. A lot of our would-be buyers have highlighted the lack of choice in the EV world. I agree with them to an extent. There are still more petrol models released every year and, despite the outcry over the diesel gate, manufacturers are still playing the safe card by working on petrol cars. There’s also a technical barrier. Apart from Tesla, all the other manufacturers have built petrol cars for a decade. They know how to build them. But electric cars? It’s a new beast. Take the example of the I-Pace: Jaguar took a massive turn in releasing their first all-electric. They don’t yet know the problems ahead and they don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with technical problems, support, customer queries. However, the future looks promising with a lot of full-electric models coming up and key manufacturers have also an electric program such as the Porsche Mission E. Technically, every year’s customers should have more choice.
The typical mass-market consumer will look at adopting their first EV through the second-hand market, mainly for economic reason. The first problem is linked to the size of the EV market itself. The size of the second-hand market will be what the new market was a few years ago: which means it’s small. You have less choice and you may need to get your car from far away. The second problem is battery performance. EV battery performance degrades over time which means that, after some years, you cover fewer miles with the same battery. To tackle this, manufacturers offer battery warranty based on mileage or number of years which guarantees your battery will work for that time. There’s also the battery leasing concept whereby you own the car but rent the battery. If the battery falls under a certain performance level, the battery is repaired or replaced.
That’s probably the biggest issue. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had this conversation with customers, prospects, friends and business partners. Their rationale is that the range of an EV is limited and looking for a charge point when the battery reaches 10% is an unbearable thought. The fundamental flaw is that people compare an electric car with a petrol car. When you have an EV you charge at home or your nearest public charge point. You charge more frequently to be always fully charged. With a petrol car, you would wait for the tank to be almost empty to think about filling up. On a longer journey, you need to plan a bit more. Granted. But how many long journeys do you really do? The average daily journey in Europe is around 30-40km and most of the hybrid models will cover this range. That may be a problem for businessmen always on the road but for the normal user, it’s not a problem.
Jérôme is the boss of Andersen’s day-to-day managerial and service delivery. With extensive experience of retail system development and property and financial services, Jerome has an eye for quality and control. When he’s not mapping the future, he loves to talk to customers, drink French wine or speak Mandarin. He even finds time to walk his two dogs in the evenings.