Note: This is the first of probably dozens of articles I’ll be publishing from my trip to Barcelona for EVS27 — exclusive interviews, pictures, EV reviews, interesting EV research findings, and more. Stay tuned for some really awesome stuff!
I think I test drove 8 electric cars within the past 5 days. Time after time, the #1 thing that came to mind was: “This is so much nicer than a gasmobile. This is f***ing awesome!” You step on the acceleration (maybe we should say, “step on the electricity”) and a smile immediately comes to your face. The quick and powerful yet quiet acceleration is simply awesome. If you step on it enough, it can throw you back, reminding me of the experience in some planes when you take off. It also makes me think of Star Trek, when they jet the starship into a speed beyond light speed. Now that I’m writing this, it of course seems a little crazy, but that’s what came to mind for me on multiple occasions.
Of course, the whole ride is super smooth and super quiet. There is no rumbling engine. It’s definitely one reason why the driving experience of an EV is so much better than the driving experience of a gasmobile.
There’s actually something called “the EV smile” — what people get after or while testing out an electric vehicle. I’ve seen it time after time now, and I’ve had it time after time. An EV owner I talked with at EVS27 said that he still gets it. In the link above, you can read about another EV owner who still gets it. I’m pretty sure I’ll have it for years.
The frustrating thing is that this top EV selling point is hardly ever mentioned in advertising or EV promotion. One of the reasons for this is that EVs are much, much greener than gasmobiles. Also, they allow you to cut gasoline out of your personal life (as well as the unpleasant cost of fueling up). These are huge EV benefits that those in the industry have assumed they need to center their advertising around. It’s not a horrible assumption, but I think its also not the best.
People want to be greener. People want to cut oil out of their lives and would love to never have to visit a gas station again. However, these are not things that the majority of people base their purchasing decisions on.
People base their purchasing decisions on desire, emotion, thrill, love. EVs are amazing to drive. When it comes to the pleasure of driving, the excitement of driving — EVs trump gasmobiles. What EV producers and EV advocates need to be doing is telling people how much more enjoyable driving an EV is. Show them — through videos of people driving an EV for the first time, or after driving an EV for the first time; through videos of EV owners, the majority of whom don’t intend to ever go back to gasmobiles.
In a lot of cases, people who get an EV intend for it to be a supplemental second car. However, once they own it, it generally ends up being the car everyone in the family wants to drive, and many families will move on and drop their gasmobile for another EV or PHEV.
I had the pleasure of talking with one major EV leader (who I won’t name at this moment) while at EVS27. He related a story to me that reiterates the awesomeness of EVs well. He owns a Chevy Volt, and a relative of his got to know about the Chevy Volt through him. The relative eventually decided to buy one. Now, this EV leader notes that his relative “can’t shut up about the car.” It’s a story that many of you have probably lived through.
In a number of presentations at EVS27, it was emphasized that what is needed for EVs to hit “the big time” in a regional or national market is simply greater awareness about the cars. Incentives are helpful, charging stations are helpful, extending range and reducing costs are helpful, but the often-unacknowledged and perhaps biggest factor is simply raising EV awareness.
This was emphasized, for example, in a presentation about Norway’s tremendous EV leadership — the geographically large, dispersed, and cold country is the global leader in EVs per capita. Sure, Norway has some incentives for EVs, but so do numerous other countries. Sure, Norway has a decent and growing network of EV charging stations, but so do many other places. What Norway’s population has — probably more than the population of any other country — is a broader and deeper EV awareness. As a result, the Tesla Model S was the top-selling car (of any kind) in Norway in September, and the Nissan Leaf was the top-selling car (of any kind) in Norway in October. There’s no reason other countries can’t replicate Norway’s success.
Long story short: Help to spread the total awesomeness of driving electric vehicles. People are attracted to fun, awesomeness, and excitement. Electric cars offer all of these things, way more than gasmobiles. If people are pulled in by this buzz (and they will be much more so than by EVs’ green props or oil-free selling point), they will look to try out an EV for themselves. Once they try out an EV, they are quite likely to be impressed and to want to own an EV. Once they own an EV, they are quite likely to want to drive it rather than a gasmobile, and even get rid of any gasmobiles in their garage.
Awesomeness is what turned Apple into a giant. It’s what makes people wait in line outside for the next Apple product. Awesomeness is what made gaming consoles commonplace. Awesomeness is what makes sports such a popular pastime, and even something people are obsessed with watching. Awesomeness will lead to EVs taking over the automobile market. The question is, “how soon?” It’s all about awareness. Many or most people you know probably can’t even name an electric car or know about Tesla Motors. You’d be surprised. And most of them, even if they know that much, surely know very little about electric vehicles and probably don’t have a clue that electric vehicles are awesome to drive. That needs to change. Help to spread the word!
I’ll have much more from EVS27 coming your way in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!