Cracking the code of what people want in their electric vehicles is not that complicated, even though analysts at Edmunds seem to think otherwise.
In an article published by the San Diego Union Tribune, a market analyst at Edmunds said that electric car buyers “don’t seem to be EV fans, they seem to be Tesla fans.” She also said that, “It’s been really hard for any other company to crack the code of what people want in an EV.”
Cracking The Code: The Issues
One issue is that, even if people don’t make long road trips, or make them no more than once a year, they want their cars to have the ability to conveniently go on a long road trip — whether that means across the country, up and down the East Coast, up and down the West Coast, or something else. So far, only Tesla has provided electric vehicles and a charging network that allow this. CleanTechnica’s in-depth research has shown for years that this is critical to EV buyers.
Another issue is that people want their electric cars to be versatile. Like smartphones, electric cars don’t just meet one basic need. It’s not about just going to work or to the store. People spend a lot of time in their cars and the more interactive a car is in their day-to-day lives, the more popular that car becomes.
Tesla knows this and has included superb navigation, smooth calendar syncing, and gamification in its vehicles. Whether’s its the ability to play Beach Buggy while parked, score referral prizes, or prank someone with Fart Mode, Tesla has made owning an EV fun. People like fun.
Tesla has easter eggs, over-the-air updates (important for many buyers), and actual gaming of various sorts inside the car. No other company has done this. You can’t play Beach Buggy in a Chevy Bolt — unless it’s on your phone or tablet.
Tesla also has Autopilot, which many consider the best and most advanced semi-autonomous driving technology on the market.
However, the “coolness” factor isn’t the only thing Tesla has going for it.
What People Are Saying
Some think that us Musketeers hate other EVs… We don't.
It's only that @Tesla, not the other companies, is on the cutting edge of battery, drivetrain, infotainment, and self-driving technology.
In other words, Tesla shapes the future while other companies live in the past. 😇 pic.twitter.com/YZ0T0UFgpT
— Official* Pope of Muskanity 🖌 (@RationalEtienne) September 11, 2019
Looking through the Reddit comments on the article can give us a few viewpoints from electric vehicle consumers.
Hottachych says, “People want cars with good range that don’t look like ass. I dunno why it’s so hard for other companies to ‘crack that code’. It’s like they are not even trying.”
Cold12 says, “They aren’t trying because traditional automakers don’t (usually) make money on EVs. They only produce them so they can meet regulatory requirements. Nothing more than lip service.”
Refpuz commented that, “To be more specific, I don’t want an EV that looks like a cartoon or tries too hard to ‘announce’ it’s an EV. Every other EV car either by name, design, or both has to announce it is an EV. Audi E-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace, the name are just cringey to be honest. I just want a good looking, practical car that happens to be an EV.”
“People want reconfigurable cars. Future of car isn’t hardware, it’s software that ‘Download and update’ to bring in features like sentry mode is what all about for millennials,” x-w-j inputs.
“‘Cracking the “code’ involves building a car that doesn’t look like an egg on wheels (i3, Bolt, etc.) and making it affordable. I assume it’s because any other manufacturer is more focused on profits, rather than helping make a change in the auto industry,” AscendantArtichoke.
“I’ve been saying it for years and idk why automakers don’t get it. Stop making weird-looking hatchbacks exclusively as you’re electric cars! I know they aren’t weird to everyone and I loved my funky looking 2013 Nissan Leaf. I always joked that those sharp headlights would make a great murder weapon in an episode of CSI. They just aren’t what your average person in the US is looking for. Give them something that looks like a normal sedan that just so happens to be electric and so many more will be drawn to it,” adds glr2971.
Tesla Fans Provide Decoding Services for CleanTechnica
Another way to crack the code is to just ask questions. People, especially Tesla owners, will tell you what they want in an electric vehicle and why Tesla, not other companies, met their own personal criteria.
Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, says “A great car that looks cool. The problem is all the other EVs look like crap! It’s like they purposely made them horrid looking. People want an EV but they don’t want some bolt looking car. Teslas look great, drive great, and are EV. EV doesn’t mean people should sacrifice cool.”
Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley on Twitter explained to me that, “Tesla fans are EV fans but they hate the double standard on Tesla versus other ICE companies that they are now adopting. Everyone applauds everyone else except Tesla when they do something. They act like it’s the first time something has happened or even say that every new EV is a Tesla killer. So that’s the balance on the Tesla side is that we applaud new EVs but hate to see the double standard.”
Kristen, a Tesla owner and shareholder, tells me that, “EVs have been on my heart since I ran the environmental club back in high school. I would even dream up ways to make electromagnetic cars with roads repurposed with recyclables. No EV has stood out like Tesla. Tesla doesn’t just set a mission up, but it’s well on its way to completing it. I see great engineering and beautiful design. That’s very attractive. Things need to be designed to last. They need to have good bones and character. Tesla has that, it has depth. It has … backbone, as does Elon and the Tesla Leadership Team. Trustworthy and efficient, that is Tesla. If one was to make a list of what EVs offer … Tesla’s would be above and beyond most, all from a heartfelt mission. Tesla states it best: ‘Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Tesla was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars.’”
Lisa says that Autopilot is what she likes the most. “Don’t hate me” (we don’t!) “but if Tesla made gas cars with Autopilot — I’d buy one. That is how much I love and am 24/7 (every second) fascinated with Autopilot and watching it improve and learn new things.”
Joanna Ballard of Baton Rouge says that, “In the State of Louisiana, dealerships are not allowed to sell electric or hybrid cars. So if you’re going online to order an EV or a hybrid, Tesla has the largest name recognition, despite the fact that Tesla doesn’t pay for advertising.”
Karen Rudisil says that, “When we first bought our Tesla, we were not in the market for EV but a car that appreciated versus depreciated in value. Most any car you buy starts depreciating from the moment you drive off the lot. Tesla’s don’t do that to the extent that any other car would. Tesla brings more to the table in a vehicle — not just an EV — for what you can get for the money. To me, you don’t get as much bang for the buck as you would for Tesla. We put 4600 miles on our Tesla Model X last Christmas. Tesla has a Supercharger network that we can plug into when doing long road trips. An EV is good, but an EV that is also appealing counts because people in that demographic want something that has a sense of luxury, and to me, that’s why I don’t think these other EVs have sold as well. Also, another reason they haven’t sold as well is that for other carmakers, how can one tout the advantages of selling an EV while you’re also selling ICE cars?”
→ Related: 4 Reasons Why We Bought A Tesla Model 3
Deciphering the Data
What do people want in an electric vehicle? Aside from the obvious good range and safety, people have a lot of things they want in a car.
People want a car that is unique to them. It helps them express their own sense of individuality. People often see their cars as an extension of themselves. If you are on an extremely low budget and in the market for a used car and electric isn’t even on your radar, you would still opt for one that meets your needs as well as one that is visually attractive to you.
Tesla isn’t just an auto company, but also a technology company. Many customers see this and include this as their reason for supporting Tesla, for buying shares, and for buying cars or solar. Many have stated that the other automakers live in the past while Tesla is progressing us into the future — evolving how future generations will drive (or not drive) cars. Tesla is also tackling climate change and pollution head on, helping society to evolve.
Tesla has something unique that other car companies do not have: Autopilot. Even NVIDIA mentioned that Tesla raised the bar on autonomous driving software. Autopilot has also been credited with saving lives and preventing accidents by many Tesla owners. Sentry Mode is another unique feature, one that has helped catch thieves as well as capture people doing funny things such as dancing, taking selfies, and even waving at the camera.
Tesla is often mocked and ridiculed by major media sources such as Jalopnik, CNBC, and Business Insider. These same sites praise other EV companies for doing something Tesla has done for years while putting Tesla down or completely ignoring the data and facts presented to them.
Seeing other automakers copy Tesla — do so sometimes just enough to meet regulations — and then get praised for it while Tesla is being slammed repeatedly is disheartening. It makes many people want to support and buy Teslas more.
Many Tesla owners chose Tesla because it is a company that resonates with their values. Some of those values are about climate change and Tesla’s positive impact on the environment. Some are from a technological standpoint and see that Tesla is leading the EV revolution with its cutting-edge leadership in the tech industry.
It didn’t take a Caeser cipher to grasp what people want from their electric vehicles. If any company is going to be successful, it has to listen, respond, and meet the needs of its potential customers and customers. Tesla has done this many times over. So have other successful companies, like Disney, Trader Joe’s, and Netflix — all three making the Forbes list of 10 Most Customer Obsessed Companies in 2018.
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