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The Role of Market Research in the Electric Vehicle Industry

The globe’s overall rising temperature has sparked an even hotter topic of discussion - Electric Vehicles. Love them or hate them, buzz around EV’s has taken off over the past decade. Public figures such as the “Technoking” Elon Musk and world governments have turned over a new leaf on advocating for the creation and use of more environmentally friendly cars. Despite the sudden rise in popularity of electric cars, the concept of a car with an electric motor is over a century old. In fact, the electric car was first conceptualized and created in the late 1800’s. 

The Rise of Electric Cars

So why now is the category suddenly buzzing? While the idea of an all electric vehicle has long existed - there’s been a large global push with growing concerns in regard to the planet’s climate and health. Additionally, the success of the Tesla product line (the Tesla Model 3, the Tesla Model Y, and eventually the Tesla CyberTruck) has resulted in everyone, from tried and true automakers like Ford and GM, to brand new manufacturers like Rivian and Fiskar, jumping into the electric car business. Both the primary and secondary research, as well as the economic indicators, suggest that it won't be long before dealerships are filled with electric trucks, electric SUVS, and even electric sports cars.

But while manufacturers may be all-in on electric cars, the same cannot be said for the general public. Like many subjects, consumer attitudes regarding ownership and use of electric vehicles have become more polarized with its rise in attention, specifically in the United States. We at 10K Humans feel this is why Market Research has great potential in the electric vehicle category. These EV companies need to conduct both exploratory and specific research with their customers over the next couple of years if they are to capitalize on this opportunity.  

What the Current Market Research Says About Electric Cars

We often hear about the benefits of a massive switch away from internal combustion engine cars to EVs but according to survey research in a 2022 article from the Pew Research Center only “about four-in-ten Americans (42%) say they would be very or somewhat likely to seriously consider purchasing an electric vehicle the next time they’re looking for a new car or truck. A slightly larger share (45%) say they would be not too or not at all likely to do this, while 13% say they do not plan to purchase a vehicle in the future.”

So why is there such a divisive fork in the road? Buckle up, as we'll be taking a look at all of the pain points and factors involved in the opposition of electric cars. We will also explore how Market Research could help EV manufacturers overcome these purchase barriers.  

  1. Pricepoint - According to a competitive analysis conducted by NRDC.org in 2021, EV’s cost, on average, roughly $10,000 more than traditional combustion engine cars. Sticker shock plays a key role when auto-shopping.  
  2. Infrastructure - The US, among many countries, is in the process of passing legislation to make the nation more suitable for EV drivers. In his 2022 article, Steven Loveday explains, “the best place to charge your EV is at home. It’s cheaper and more convenient than public charging. That said, some people can’t charge at home. It’s imperative for folks who fall into this category to make sure they have access to public charging options before purchasing an electric car.” (USNews.com) The idea of charging either on the road or at home leads to further concerns that are expanded on in our next two points.
  3. “Range Anxiety” - A newer term that’s been coined through some exploratory research, as a result of the rising popularity of electric cars. Range Anxiety refers to the fear of not having enough charge to make it to a destination. This is closely tied to lack of public infrastructure for stopping and charging on long road trips.  
  4. Maintenance costs - As with concerns around starting price points, many consumers are weary of the higher cost of parts and repairs for electric vehicles. There’s much concern that batteries have a shorter lifespan compared to traditional internal combustion engines and are much more expensive to replace. Consumers also fear that charging their vehicle at home will skyrocket their electric bills (increasing the price tag of EV ownership even further).

How Market Research Can Help Navigate the Roadblocks Electric Cars Face

Understanding and navigating these roadblocks is the key to bridging the gap in consumer hesitancy and increasing both market size and customer demand. This is where our role, as Market Researchers becomes pivotal. With world governments encouraging citizens to turn towards electric cars, message and concept testing will become crucial for the Electric Vehicle industry to gain both brand favorability and market saturation with their target customers.

As more companies try their hand in electric vehicle manufacturing and support, we at 10K Humans feel it’s crucial to understand these challenges to be ready to face them head on.

The Future of Electric Cars and Market Research

As we head into the new year we’re revamping our qualitative research, quantitative research, and our recruitment approaches to better meet the needs of these emerging research categories. Whether this is done by speaking to potential customers via primary research (focus groups, IDIs, communities) or meta analyses by analyzing existing qualitative data and quantitative data through secondary market research, we want to be at the forefront of our industry.

Either way, innovation and an increased sensitivity to the general public’s divide will go a long way in the Market Research Industry as we work to tackle questions and concerns surrounding the use of electric cars for our partners.

Are you in the midst of conducting market research in the electric car space? What types of EV research are you seeing come across your desk? Do you want to conduct market research in the EV space but don't know where to start? We can help with everything from data collection, to focus group moderation to product testing. We offer up a variety of services all of which can help you gather information and see the bigger picture. Share your thoughts via comments on LinkedIn or email.

Desirae Cox  |  Senior Project Director

Carsurance | BTS | CNN | Electrek NBC news | Exploding Topics | US News | Reuters | CNN | Pew Research | Forbes

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