Butts in Seats: Still Top Way To Get People Buying Electric Cars

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Tracking the electric vehicle revolution, it’s sometimes hard to see the trees for the forest, and sometimes it’s hard to see the forest we’re headed into when we’re looking backward at the forest we traversed. Electric vehicle sales have grown enormously in the past decade, as many of us here predicted they would despite ridicule, laughter, misunderstanding, FUD, and underestimation from many conventional experts and armchair critics. However, growth doesn’t always accelerate. And, in fact, as you go higher up the adoption curve, growth inevitably will hit some bumps and eventually slow down. Due to a variety of different factors (Germany’s sudden policy changes, Tesla’s challenges at home, a slightly wobbly Chinese market), we’re in a bit of an odd moment with the EV transition, and a recent story just hit home for me that sometimes it helps to return to the roots.

Electric cars are all over the area of Florida where I live, and I’m sure it’s the same in many other places. However, as EV adoption has risen, I’ve wondered more and more, “who is buying electric cars now?” Of course, I think everyone should buy electric cars, but we’re past the phase where it’s all early-adopting tech enthusiasts and climate-focused buyers buying EVs. When it’s not the climate crisis or enthusiasm for new tech pulling in new buyers, when it’s “normal people” joining the EV transition, what gets them to go electric?

Oh, well, it’s no secret — I put my answer to that in the title. I don’t have all the answers, but the the simple recipe noted in the title has been suggestion #1 in the EV world for years decades, and simple as it may be, it seems that finding ways to get more people to test out electric cars is probably the best way to get more people to buy electric cars. Let’s get to the recent story that stimulated this article.

We were at the neighborhood/community pool and were talking to some friends. These are very normal, mainstream friends. We don’t hang out a lot, but our daughters are in the same grade and have been in the same class in the past, and so we’ve loosely known each other and talked here and there for a few years. Having a Tesla and the CleanTechnica logo suck to it and often wearing a CleanTechnica hat, I’m sure the topic of EVs have come up in the past, but they never stood out to me as people who were interested in getting an electric car any time soon. You can tell when you’re talking to someone about EVs and they are considering whether to get one and when you’re talking to someone about EVs and it’s just something to talk about other than the weather. But this chat by the pool was different. Something had changed.

The mom was all in. She was enthusiastic and thinking to get an EV all of a sudden. The light bulb had clicked on for another super mainstream consumer. What had happened? She has a Cadillac (I think an XT5) and she had taken it in for service for something recently. Given that it was going to take a while, they gave her a drive home. They drove her home in a Cadillac LYRIQ, and the rest is history. I don’t know if she’s even driven it yet, but she wrote in it and was highly impressed by how quiet it was, how smooth it was, and how nice it was inside. She was clear that was the car she wanted to buy next, until …

Lyriq electric car
Photo by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica.
Cadillac Lyriq
Photo by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica.
Cadillac Lyriq
Photo by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica.

… the next time we saw them at the pool, a couple weeks later. Something had happened in the meantime. Cadillac had unveiled the OPTIQ. Now she doesn’t know if she’d rather get the LYRIQ or the OPTIQ. In any case, though, I think we can count on her adding one more sale to the EV sales chart eventually.

Cadillac OPTIQ.
Head-on view of 2025 Cadillac OPTIQ in Monarch Orange, featuring Cadillac vertical lighting signature, sleek LED headlamps and the black crystal shield grille design.
2025 Cadillac OPTIQ in Argent Silver Metallic.

I do think there’s the matter of so many electric cars being on the road already that helps mainstream buyers jump quickly from experiencing an EV to planning to buy one. I always wonder how many people notice all the EVs around us on the road now. I figure that most people don’t recognize they’re electric, except when they know a bit about Tesla or are just a little more attentive to the little letters and symbols on some cars indicating they’re electric. However, once you have an experience like this friend of ours had and you start thinking about EVs, you perhaps look around and notice they are all over the place. That has to nudge mainstream buyers onward.

But, getting back to the recommendation in the title: how do we get more butts in seats? Here are a few lists of all the ideas that come to mind for me:

For dealers/manufacturers:

  • Give people rides home from the service center in your best EVs. (hehe)
  • Bring EVs to more non-car events in order to give people impromptu rides and short drives.
  • Host special “EV days” at dealerships and offer candy (or perhaps some more appealing goodies and attractions).
  • Have your employees drive EVs! Give them special deals, require it, etc. Having staff who drive EVs and understand them can go a long way in selling more.

For EV owners:

  • Offer more friends, and even strangers, the chance to drive or ride in your EV. Sometimes we may just assume that people will ask for that if they are curious, but there are always going to be people who are too shy to ask, or who just don’t want to impose. Make it easy on them and just offer it.
  • Bring your cars to EV ride & drive events.
  • Offer to give more people a ride home or such when the opportunity arises.
  • Maybe do a bit of Uber/Lyft driving on the side.
  • Put your car on Turo if that works for you.
  • Stand on the road and offer free candy for anyone who wants to try out your EV. (Or not.)

Any other ideas?

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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