What Motivates Electric Vehicle Customers?
Understanding 'Why' Will Help You Win Their Trust and Business
This MTD exclusive was provided by Craig Van Batenburg, MTD's monthly EV Intelligence columnist and owner of Van Batenburg's Garage Inc. dba Automotive Career Development Center, which provides training for facilities that service - or want to service - electric and hybrid vehicles.
Can we save the planet one electric vehicle (EV) at a time? Whether you are working toward a more sustainable future or not, most people who drive pure EVs are trying to do just that.
The EV customer population is growing and EV customers will need tires more often than the drivers of internal combustion cars and light trucks. That’s good news - if you don’t drive these new customers away.
Concerns around climate change are not new. When climate change matters to a buyer of anything - a TV, a refrigerator, a washing machine, etc. - they will do the math. If that new fridge is just as good, not overpriced and will save them money on the electric bill, they will make the investment.
With EVs, it’s a bit more complicated. But the spirit is still the same.
If your regular customer or their family member buys an EV, are you ready for them? You as an owner - plus your managers and sales staff - need to embrace these people. When you do, the customers you take care of will see that you speak their language.
Now are there really that many people who will spend more up-front for an EV? Do you already have customers who want the best tire? Will they spend the money to keep their family safe? Yes on all of the above, if they have the funds.
Will EVs catch on? They already have.
EV sales grew by 85% from 2020 to 2021 and that is remarkable in the context of overall light-duty vehicle sales, which increased by only 3% during the same period.
My company, the Automotive Career Development Center (ACDC), has been at this high-voltage thing for quite some time.
ACDC owns a Nissan Leaf, a Kia Niro EV and a Tesla Model 3, plus a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.
How did I get started in embracing EVs? In the fall of 1972, I was “voluntold” that I was going to Cherry Hill, N.J., for Honda service training.
At the time, the Honda Civic was coming to America. As a Honda motorcycle mechanic, I was not too thrilled, but I went. (Something about needing to make payments on my Toyota Hilux and an apartment factored into the decision.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 and by 1972, the automotive industry was either fighting new EPA regulations or designing engines to comply. Honda was doing the latter.
At Honda school, the first four hours of our first day had nothing to do with learning how to work on the Civic. We all went back to science class and learned about hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and nitrates of oxygen. We saw pictures of smog in Los Angeles and photos of smoking tailpipes. We learned about lung disease and asthma and were told by the EPA what was coming. It wasn’t pretty.
The job in front of us was clear - clean up the air. So I drank the Kool-Aid and never looked back.
In 1977, I opened up Van Batenburg’s Garage, which specializes in Honda service. ACDC was opened in 1999. I currently run that business.
When the Honda Insight hybrid went on sale in 1999, I bought one and still have it.
Since then, cars have become even cleaner and safer - unfortunately, drivers have not - and my passion for a cleaner planet never died. Today, it’s about reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
Honda was responsible for helping me and a lot of others see a brighter, better and cleaner world where cars and other vehicles are not burning fossil fuels.
Your EV tire customers all have a similar story. That story plays over and over in their lives. Connecting their story with your story is what makes sales happen.
Take the time to learn about EVs. Drive them so you know what your customers are experiencing and can offer the right products and services as you grow your own knowledge.
Who knows? You may even put your logo on the door of your own Ford Mustang Mach-E or Ford F-150 Lightning and place charging stations in your parking lot. It could happen.
But make sure you understand what motivates EV owners first. That’s the first step in earning their trust and business.