Why everything you think about the purchase of electric cars is wrong

Last month, Tesla unveiled the latest in their line of stylish electric cars, the Tesla Roadster. While the model has been applauded for its environmental capabilities and range of distance on a single charge, much of the praise was heaped on its elegant, sleek exterior, and its vast array of technological assets, all of which has almost overshadowed the eco-friendly proficiency that has been at the heart of Tesla’s previous vehicles. The manufacturer’s innovative designs have pushed its models beyond the core group of consumers looking for a zero-emission vehicle.

 This manufacturer, whose reputation has been built on electric vehicles, recently showcased its latest model.

This manufacturer, whose reputation has been built on electric vehicles, recently showcased its latest model.

In trying to understand the motivational drivers in a car purchase, it’s no longer a case of collating demographics, level of wealth or location. This is particularly pertinent when predicting the future electric car buyer. With rapidly accelerating technology becoming a daily feature of life across the globe, the electric car market has become available to just about anyone.

More important than traditional segmentation factors are the passions of the potential customers and the motivations these lead to. Understanding this is key for any manufacturer to drive sales. An electric vehicle owner could be the 60-year-old man, coming up to retirement, looking for a car with cheaper premiums, or the 25-year-old female career climber, wanting a model with the latest gadgets.

The misplaced assumption is that anyone who purchases an electric vehicle does so due to environmental concerns. However, a study by Starcount into the passions, motivations and mindsets of electric car consumers has painted a fascinating picture that could radically change how you think about who the electric car customer is and how to target them.

Starcount’s emotional data has shown that only 14% of the UK electric car audience were motivated to purchase due to environmental reasons. These are the kind of people who are concerned with how environmentally sensitive the car is, and companies like Tesla, who are pioneering the latest clean technology in their vehicles, are extremely popular with this segment. These consumers are drawn to manufacturers who have released affordable, mid-range, environmentally-friendly vehicles, brands such as Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault and Toyota.

Making up the next portion of the UK electric car audience are the car enthusiasts, with 30%. This audience loves electric cars for the simple reason that they love cars in general, in all their different shapes, colours and sizes. Their motivation lies in the pride of owning a vehicle that differs in some way and for them brands including Suzuki, Seat, Alfa Romeo and Peugeot fulfill their desire. These are manufacturers who are releasing bold and stylish electric models that, while looking glamorous, are within the price range of your everyday consumer.

The largest grouping, however, are the technology-led consumers with 56% of the audience. This audience are looking for brands that put quality into the engineering of their electric cars. For them, the technology within the car is more important than the environmental capabilities, turning to brands such as Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes.

 The largest segment of customers will focus on the technological aspects of the vehicle, rather than its eco-friendly capabilities.

The largest segment of customers will focus on the technological aspects of the vehicle, rather than its eco-friendly capabilities.

The research disproves the myth that consumers in the electric car market are driven solely by ecological concerns. For many, there are greater motivations behind their interest and the development of these vehicles only proves this.

This study is crucial in highlighting two major themes: the first is understanding that consumers are all looking for different things in a product, no matter the common conceptions that exist on what purpose the product is perceived to fulfill. The second is that, by understanding the motivations behind seeking a product, you can highlight how that item would fulfill a particular motivation or passion by personalizing  your communication. If you sell electric cars, don’t just assume everyone wants to buy one because they’re environmentally friendly. Understand there is a whole range of reasons for someone to purchase an electric vehicle, based upon their passions.

So, a young male customer may be in the market for an eco-friendly vehicle, but his love for gadgets and cars with the latest tech might trump his clean energy concerns. Equally, an older, wealthier woman maybe looking for a flashy sportscar but her passion for the environment might drive her purchase for a vehicle that looks good, but has a top environmental rating. A manufacturer that understands and accommodates these complex factors can become truly customer centric and project remarkable growth.

Starcount recently worked with a major car manufacturer to enhance and personalise their customer communications strategy built around different passion segments, resulting in an increase in test drives of one of their models by more than 1200%. Find out how here.