Electric Vehicles Not Selling Fast? The Role of EV Experiences
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Electric Vehicles Not Selling Fast? The Role of EV Experiences

Electrify Expo attendees test driving the Telsa Model 3 and Tesla Model S - Electric Vehicles Not Selling Fast
  • Firsthand experiences are dispelling the myth that electric vehicles are not selling.
  • Discover how neighbors are turning skeptics into EV enthusiasts.
  • See how Electrify Expo and education galleries are transforming curiosity into action.
  • Learn why electric school buses might be the key to normalizing EVs for the next generation.

My neighbors, directly to the left and right of my house, got spirited test rides in my new Tesla Model Y when it arrived a few years ago. They happened to buy red and blue; combined with my white, it gave us a patriotic lineup a few weeks later for the town’s Fourth of July.


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Then it spread, and the neighbors left and right of them bought them in black and gray. By year’s end, our little alley had Tesla’s full color palette in five houses (and with their generous use of my referral code, I think I’m still Supercharging for free). Other neighbors ventured out to other EV brands too, and at least in our local group, this countered the notion that electric vehicles are not selling.

Red Tesla Model Y, White Tesla Model Y, and Blue Tesla Model Y photographed near the town square for Independence Day
Red Tesla Model Y, White Tesla Model Y, and Blue Tesla Model Y photographed near the town square for Independence Day

Instead of talking about problems with electric cars, neighbors were talking about which factors led to their own EV adoption. As a former German-car enthusiast, I focused on the dynamics of the EV driving sensation (especially the smooth and generous acceleration that years later still makes me giggle). For the grandparents two houses down, they said their grandkids loved riding with them because of the all-glass canopy; the adventurous couple loved the low cost-per-mile; and the nuclear family was compelled after learning it is the “safest car ever tested.”

Their purchase decisions weren’t based on any specific prior EV research – they were motivated, like many of us are, by what they heard from the people they trust around them, and what they saw and encountered for themselves.


Experiences as THE Gateway to EV Adoption?

I’m a guy that connects with facts and the numbers that underlie them, and I’m wondering if America is missing out on the biggest EV boom because they’re missing out on the interactions my neighbors enjoyed.

Consumer Reports conducted a consumer experience survey to understand this and nabbed nearly 10,000 participants. Afterwards, they issued a press release with their results that suggest there’s a “there” there.


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The release noted that “We did find a very strong, positive statistical relationship between increased experience and increased purchase interest.” Going further, the intent data within this EV research is expected to translate into actual sales. “Once more consumers get some first hand experience with EVs, demand could accelerate swiftly.” 

If more EV driving experiences = increased EV adoption, then what are the options, and how do we promote them?


Friends & Family

I remember early Tesla days when interested buyers were connected with real, current drivers who volunteered to share their personal stories. Tesla took a direct approach to scaling social validation. Anecdotally, I saw the power of sharing experiences with a broad audience work recently, too.

I was in Banff when it was extremely cold (daytime temps below -10°F). I visited a Tesla charging station, and I recorded EVs successfully charging and driving. Then I took videos of nearby gas cars plugged in — engine block heaters keeping oil and other fluids warm enough to start! My family, friends, and LinkedIn community experienced this contrast between the problems with electric cars they hear about versus reality as a sharp surprise — and one of my followers sent me a note that what I had shared helped them make a decision to purchase an EV as a result.

The Electric Vehicle Association is a nonprofit working to scale these approaches. April is their “Drive Electric Earth Month,” and the key draw is “Talk to an Owner” and “Test Drivers.”


Electrify Expo

The focus of successful EV experiences is getting curious drivers behind the wheel. This tracks — switching propulsion systems from gas engines to battery-powered electric motors is a transition of fundamentals.

  • Husband and wife looking at the camera while checking out the Volvo CX40 electric SUV - Electric Vehicles Not Selling Fast
  • Electrify Expo attendees waiting their turn to test drive and demo the Kia EV6
  • Electrify Expo attendees test driving the Porsche Macan EV electric SUV and BMW i7 electric sedan
  • Father and son adjusting electric vehicle settings from the LCD screen - Electric Vehicles Not Selling Fast

Electrify Expo is a national expo with eight locations and dates that packs all the leading EV manufacturers, even exotic options like EV motorcycles, for people to try for themselves all in one place.

Electrify Expo’s CEO, BJ Birtwell, has this to say: “At Electrify Expo, we turn 1 million square feet into a festival containing the ultimate EV proving grounds. Attendees enter the event with real curiosity, and even skepticism about EVs but after a high-quality, hands-on experience they typically are converted.”

To address the misconception within auto dealers and reps that electric vehicles are not selling and will not sell, Birtwell extended a unique offer to these dealers and reps to pay their cost of admission.


EV Education Galleries

Cory Hewett's daughter and family visiting the Atlanta, GA Rivian showroom in Ponce City Market
Visiting the Atlanta, GA Rivian showroom in Ponce City Market with my two children

Options exist in many major markets now to see leading EV brands at “education galleries” — like the new Rivian showroom in Atlanta, Georgia. State laws limit or outright prevent automakers from directly selling vehicles to drivers, but they do have allowances for EVs to be made available for educational demonstrations and test drives.


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With no sales commissions and a state ban on sales conversations, these are great no-pressure opportunities to explore the brand and their products.


Charger Small Talk

Every automaker is adopting the Tesla NACS charging Standard (now dubbed J3400 by SAE) and, with an adapter, Ford is the first to make Superchargers available for their EVs. The diversity of vehicles at Superchargers is only increasing from here and, by design, these charging stations are co-located near popular food and retail options.

Inherent are serendipitous social mixing opportunities to have authentic conversations with real drivers, who — with little encouragement — are willing to spill all the tea.


Children, and Their Electric School Buses, Are Our Future

Switching my thinking from addressing problems with electric car perceptions today to contemplating what will sustain EV adoption in the long haul, brings me to consider the role of fast-food restaurants’ play places. These areas, often occupying a third of the restaurant’s space and generating no direct revenue, serve a strategic purpose. In the short term, they attract kids, and they bring their parents. Over time, these children grow up with fond memories of the restaurant, likely to return with their families, perpetuating a cycle of patronage.

blue bird electric school bus with children getting on
The Blue Bird Corporation announced a record-breaking sale of 180 electric school buses to the LA Unified School District, advancing LAUSD’s climate goals.

Electric school buses might just play a similar role in the EV narrative. As the first electric vehicle encounter for many American families, electric school buses are normalizing electric travel for the next generation. This early exposure is pivotal, planting seeds for a future where electric drivetrains are not just accepted but expected.


Full Battery, Final Thoughts

The popular misconception that electric vehicles are not selling overlooks the transformative impact of firsthand experiences, which can pivot skepticism toward EV adoption enthusiasm. Catalyzing this shift is crucial as America risks missing out on the biggest EV boom. Embracing EV driving expos or a child’s journey on an electric school bus presents a compelling strategy to accelerate electric vehicle sales, and it lets the community actively shape an electric future.

Ask a friend, rent from Turo, or plan a trip to one of the eight Electrify Expo festivals — get in an EV for yourself!


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IMAGES: CORY HEWETT, ELECTRIFY EXPO

FTC: We use income-earning auto affiliate links. Learn more.

AUTHOR: 

CORY HEWETT

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