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The Way We Buy Cars Has Changed Forever — We Just Don’t Know it Yet

Are we there yet?

In the eighties, David Mitchell, founder of Find My EV, appeared on the game show Perfect Match — a result of going to the audition to support a friend who wanted to be on the show. Turns out he couldn’t juggle and David could — such are the sliding door moments in our lives. Something about Perfect Match must have stuck in David’s brain, because now, over 30 years later, his website is matching EVs and people, based on questions about the driver’s driving needs and personal preferences.

Why does anyone need another website about cars? Well, it turns out that switching to an EV isn’t as simple as turning up to the dealer that you’ve been going to for years and leaving with an EV. Quite possibly your favourite brand doesn’t have an EV yet. Even if they do, its expensive and most likely the salesperson doesn’t know much about the car and there are a myriad of horror stories about customers being actively diverted from their quest.

But the change is inevitable. All that’s in question is the time frame. Given that Australia stopped making cars over three years ago, we won’t be deciding when that is, so we need to look at what the car companies are saying. Jaguar will be all electric by 2025; Bentley, Volvo, and Ford will be in Europe by 2030; and GM is aiming for 2035. China is on the march and is already selling millions of EVs a year. Other manufacturers have made significant commitments to EV development, including Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Kia. Even Toyota, widely regarded as an EV laggard for persevering with mild hybrids and pursuing hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV), is finally releasing a BEV though its luxury brand, Lexus, and its line of BZ vehicles.

Personally, I’m working on the assumption that you won’t be able to buy a new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle in Australia after 2030, but I’m probably being conservative.

Before we start to get down into the weeds about hydrogen vs. batteries, availability of charging points and “But I need to drive from Sydney to Perth towing a caravan without stopping at least once a month…,” let’s look at the current sales paradigm. While the product might be changing, from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles, the product-centric sales channels aren’t. You still browse the classifieds, or their current-day equivalent, and go to a dealer where the salesperson tries to upsell you product-centric accessories like window tinting or corrosion protection, or if it’s an EV, a home charging station, before handing you off to service and moving on. That’s not their fault, it’s the way the industry is structured and incentivised. 

At Find My EV, they have a completely different vision, that EV consumption is a person-centric process and part of a lifelong relationship that extends beyond the vehicle. 

Source: Find My EV

Mitchell writes: “Why do we believe that? Because we see EVs as different to fossil fuel vehicles as smartphones are to landlines. The only thing they really have in common is a wheel at each corner. An EV is not only transport, but it’s also a major portion of your electricity consumption; a battery on wheels connected to your home; and a conduit for services like maps, route planning, and in-car entertainment and enrichment. No more fuel vouchers from supermarkets and shop-a-dockets. What better place to influence where you shop than when you are in the vehicle that’s taking you there? In which case, why not wrap most of those services into the point of purchase?

“So, how are we bringing this vision to life? By 2025, Find My EV is where you will consume transport and services in a customer-centric way. We’ll help you find an EV that’s right for you. To do that, we’ll ask you about your driving needs, if you haven’t given us permission to suck down the personal transport information that Google will have been undoubtedly storing for years. Then we’ll help you pick a vehicle and consumption pattern that’s right for you — be that outright purchase, leasing, subscription, or sharing. Finally, we’ll bundle electricity and other services to deliver an enduring service-oriented outcome. Basically, your own perfect match.

“Are we there yet? Not quite. Right now, we have every EV and PHEV available as well as some that are coming soon in the Australian market in our database, and a simple question and answer interface to elicit your driving habits. We then compute an individual match score for each vehicle based on your requirements and rank them in the search results. We’ve tried to present you with an information pallet that’s relevant to you. Stars for daily and weekend range, a smiley if you’ll be able to charge overnight on a basic charging setup and how many minutes it would take to add 100 km of range at the fastest possible charging rate the car can take. There are links to the brand and pre-populated searches for new/used vehicles on Carsales. We aren’t selling anything; and our first complimentary value-add service is to assist you in booking a test drive with a dealer who actually has that EV and is interested in selling it to you, not just talking you into an ICE he wants to move (we’ve heard some horror stories). But we are just at the beginning.

“We are actively seeking partnerships with companies that want to sell services and products to EV buyers but aren’t really offering their potential customers any reason to come to their site because they are still in the product-centric mindset.

“To finish on a personal note: For my sins I’ve been cruising a couple of times with Seabourn. What has always struck me from the moment I step onto the ship is it’s all about my experience. They don’t care who I bought my ticket from or how much I paid, they just want to ensure that when I walk down the gangway at the end, there isn’t any doubt in my mind who I’ll be cruising with next time. That’s the ethos we have at Find My EV. We want a relationship for life, not for just the next transaction.”

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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