There are three factors that stop people from buying an electric car:
- Fear of new technology
- Fear of running out of battery power (range anxiety)
- Fear of not being able to find an EV charger when needed.
The operative word in all three cases is “fear.” Sales professionals know the way to overcome fear is to provide clear, concise information. CleanTechnica readers tend to be well informed about electric cars, but there are millions of people who see an EV as something strange, unknown, and slightly scary. Buyers and salespeople are confused by all the new terms that apply to the electric car experience: kilowatts, kilowatt-hours, volts, amps, fast charging, Level 2, CCS, CHAdeMO, Supercharger — it’s a lot to absorb. What is needed is a way to give them the information they need to take their fear away.
In 2018, we featured a story about Chargeway, an Oregon start up that specializes in educating consumers about electric cars. Its primary tool is a 6 foot tall interactive digital kiosk with a 43″ touchscreen. It is called The Beacon and is located right on the showroom floor where it lets customers and sales people alike learn about electric cars in a way that is convenient, fun, and non-threatening. It is designed to answer the three most common questions shoppers have:
- Where can I charge my electric car?
- How long will my EV take to charge?
- Where can I go in my EV without running out of charge?
Want proof that educating consumers works? Over the past 14 months, Chargeway Beacons have been featured in 7 dealer showrooms in the Portland area. EV sales in those dealerships increased by 200% to 1000% compared to comparable Portland area dealerships with similar inventories of EVs but no Beacons in their showrooms.
With such impressive results, it’s no wonder the National Association of Auto Dealers (NADA) has embraced Chargeway and its sales tools to boost sales of electric cars. NADA president Mike Stanton says, “Giving EV shoppers a clear, up-to-date image of what the electric infrastructure looks like in their area right now in a format that’s easy to visualize is absolutely critical to instilling confidence in a customer who is purchasing his or her first EV. The prospect of having Chargeway,and its universal language for explaining how charging really works, widely available in tens of thousands of retail locations across the country should be incredibly exciting to anyone who wants to see more EVs on the road as soon as possible.”
He adds: “America’s franchised auto dealers are all-in on EVs. In fact, dealers are essential to widespread EV adoption, particularly among mass market buyers. Closing the consumer education gap between early EV adopters and the next generation of mainstream EV buyers is critical to achieving our shared goal of getting millions more EVs on the road.
“We looked at a number of different training tools and consumer apps and found that Chargeway best answered the questions that our dealers were asking about EV charging, such as how long it takes, how home charging works, what incentives are available, and even how temperature and speed can affect an EV road trip. Chargeway pulls all that information in one place, so dealers using Chargeway will have a fantastic tool to properly educate those consumers who are ready to make the switch to electric,” Stanton says.
Chargeway founder Matt Teske says, ”Almost every major automaker has announced plans to go ‘all electric’ or ‘mostly electric’ within the next decade, but auto dealers still don’t have all the tools they need to sell cars that run on electricity to buyers unfamiliar with thinking of electricity as a fuel. That’s why we’ve focused our efforts at Chargeway towards developing tools to not only educate the auto dealers themselves, but to help them inspire ‘Range Confidence’ in their customers and, ultimately, sell more vehicles.
“In that way, our interests are totally aligned with the NADA and its members. We update the station data every twenty-four hours. That goes along with the concept of ‘Range Confidence,’ too. We’re showing people — and the dealership is showing people exactly where they can find electric fuel for their electric cars.”
The Chargeway system has the support of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association, Portland General Electric, and Pacific Power. “The pilot showed us what we already knew intuitively — that EV customers were more than happy to buy their vehicles from their local dealers, as long as those dealers could confidently and correctly answer their questions,” explains Teske. “You could say the same thing about a pickup truck buyer who has questions about towing. They don’t want guessing or generalization, just straightforward, correct answers tailored to their specific needs. Chargeway is the tool that provides those answers for EVs.”
Poorly trained salespeople hate it when customers asks questions, but professionals know questions are a buying sign. No questions means no interest in the product. Answering those questions correctly and completely dramatically increases the odds of a sale. That’s what makes The Beacon such a powerful sales tool and why NADA has made Chargeway an Affinity Partner, allowing NADA member dealers to capitalize on its straightforward, universal language for explaining EV charging and give prospective EV buyers the ability to visualize how an vehicle can fit seamlessly into their lives, today.
By partnering with Chargeway, NADA is showing genuine leadership by solving many of the problems EV dealers face with better tools and training. That will enable EV buyers to get clear, correct answers to their charging questions. Because the more than 16,000 NADA member dealers nationwide represent nearly all the major automotive brands, their adoption of the Chargeway system and sales tools will create a de facto “standard dictionary” of EV charging terms, which will make it easier for EV dealers and buyers to communicate, regardless of brand.
“When it comes to EVs, this is the language we’ll be using from now on,” Mike Stanton says. “Dealers who want to get this right will want to get Chargeway.”
The Chargeway Web Beacon plugin for dealers is available now for the most common dealership web platforms and the Chargeway mobile app for EV drivers is currently available for download on both the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Interested EV shoppers and owners can access Chargeway on the web or on their smartphones using the company’s app. Clear, concise information is the key to moving the EV revolution forward as quickly as possible, something the Biden administration has made a priority. My colleague Jo Borras described how Chargeway supports that goal in an article earlier this year.
One of the primary benefits of Chargeway is that is educates salespeople as well as customers. We can never have too much accurate information when it comes to breaking down barriers to the adoption of new technology.
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