Selling Consumers on Electric Vehicles

Focus on the environmental impact and incentivize purchases, Automotive News executive says.

December 16, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Lately, the news is full of places, including California, that want to legislate the internal combustion engine out of service and push consumers to switch to electric vehicles. Electric vehicle volumes from automakers are rising, but are consumers ready to make the change?

“For me, I applaud all of these regulators and regulations to get us to a reduced carbon environment,” said Steve Schmith, executive director of custom research and data strategy of Automotive News, during this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Vehicle Sales Outlook for 2021.” Several questions still remain, including “are consumers feeling better about it? Yes. [Will they] buy them at a [larger] scale … is to be determined.”

Schmith pointed out that “the automakers have done a tremendous job addressing a lot of the consumer fears, consumer concerns and anxiety when it comes to vehicles equipped with electrified power trains. For the last several years, [automakers have addressed] the anxieties we’ve heard about—range anxiety, charge time anxiety, even segment anxiety in terms of vehicles large enough to meet the various needs of families. … The horizon, the future, of electric vehicles is very strong.”

For consumers to abandon what they’ve been driving for decades, to transition to something new, takes a significant commitment. Elected leaders are working to encourage consumers to embrace EVs. But to get consumers to change, officials need to talk more about the environmental impact.

“There are key themes regardless if you’re talking about standard internal combustion engine vehicles or EVs,” he said. “It’s performance, styling and comfort. All of those things can be embedded in an electrified engine.”

He argued that the role of consumer-facing automotive magazines such as Automotive News is “to tell the stories of those things that tug on consumer heart strings.” He also recommended “incentivizing consumers to invest in these technologies … and in these vehicles” as part of moving the world toward more EVs.

Listen for more insights into the future of car buying on the podcast. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than 200,000 times by listeners around the world.