Electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, though not as quickly as electricity providers would like. EVs represented only 2.4 percent of sales in the U.S. in August, according to Auto Alliance, and a Chinese study published that month found that only 18 percent of motorists in China are willing to consider an EV.
So one of Exelon’s internal startups has set out to identify and hurdle the barriers to EV adoption.
“We’ve done a lot of testing and experimentation in this space,” said Caroline Quazzo, a manager for EZ-EV, an Exelon subsidiary that offers software and services to utilities to help them promote EV adoption. The utilities stand to gain from supplying the fuel.
As with the 5 obstacles to selling a solar home, most of Quazzo’s obstacles are rooted in ignorance (my word, not hers). At the Smart Cities Symposium in Chicago last week, Quazzo described the following obstacles:
1 Perceived Cost
“Some people believe—to some extent because of how popular Teslas are—that only wealthy people can afford electric vehicles,” Quazzo said. “And that’s very much not true. There’s obviously a ton of different vehicles out there and with rebates and with lifetime cost of ownership, there are actually a lot of reasons why overall costs—reduced maintenance, not having to buy gas ever—can make electric vehicles significantly cheaper than the comparable internal-combustion engine vehicle.”
2 Range Anxiety
“Range anxiety is another result of a lack of understanding and education around the charging infrastructure available—where, when, how you can charge, whether it’s at home, at the office, at the store, things like that.”
3 Driver Understanding
“If you think about electricity as a fuel, it’s a whole separate way of thinking about how you use your car and what your pathways to work and to home and to various activities are, because that’s something that has an impact on how you use your car and how you keep it fueled,” Quazzo said. “When you’re buying the internal-combustion engine car, you understand how fuel works. That’s not a question that you need to ask the dealer.”
4 Dealer Understanding
“Dealers tend to be more experts when you’re buying an internal-combustion car, and so when you go to them, they’re not able to answer questions. Or you want to test drive a vehicle and it’s not charged.”
EZ-EV’s research also found some dealers steering customers toward internal-combustion cars.
“In a lot of cases—we did some experiments around this—they’ll actually direct you to purchase an internal-combustion car when you’re intending to buy an EV.”
Car buyers just need a trusted source for reliable information about EVs, Quazzo said, and EZ-EV believes utilities are best poised to serve as that source.
“The problem that we see is that there is not one consistent trusted advisor out there for people interested in purchasing an EV or who just have questions about electric vehicles. And that they can really get lost on their customer journey no matter how far into it they are.”