In preparation for an Earth Day talk about electric vehicles (EVs) I did an informal survey of EV owners. The survey was not scientific, but it was informative. I simply posted a question in the Nissan Leaf Owners Group on Facebook to which I belong.
The results surprised me and they might surprise you too.
The Many Benefits of an EV
When I asked drivers what they liked best about driving an EV, the most frequent responses had to do with torque. In case you didn’t know, EVs have a lot of torque and feel very responsive compared to gas-fired cars. Respondents wrote:
I’ve driven stick shift trucks, a stick shift Ford Probe, and automatic luxury sedans…among others. None were as fun to drive as my Leaf. The perfect torque with no delay in engine and/or transmission response is SO much fun! The money savings are great, the small environmental impact is also great and talking to people about the details of going electric are all reasons I purchased initially. Ultimately, tho, it’s the fun of driving an EV that will keep me coming back for the next 40 years!
“100% torque off the line” rocks
Numerous respondents also talked about the conveniences of an EV compared to a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE car). Conveniences included:
- charging at home instead of going to a gas station in the rain or cold
- being able to warm the vehicle in the garage without worrying about carbon monoxide fumes, and
- fewer trips to the dealership for routine maintenance.
Finally, people talked about how their EV made them feel good. There were a few comments about reducing emissions but, more, people talked about how clean the EV felt compared to an ICE car. For example:
…We loved the heated seats so much that we sometimes went weeks at a time without driving our ICE car. Going for weeks at a time without using gas brought another issue to our attention. Gas cars really do stink (of gas fumes) in a way we never noticed before! But we notice it quite a bit, if we haven’t been in a gas car for a while.
You don’t realize just how badly ICE cars stink until you ‘get out of the monkey house’ for a while and realize what fresh air is.
People also noted that EVs are quiet compared to ICE vehicles, which means drivers can hear the radio or other passengers better. One respondent said a coworker calls her EV the “Zen car” because it’s so quiet.
Talk Up Benefits that Resonate
I asked EV owners what they liked best about their EVs for a reason.
My decades of experience in energy efficiency taught me that technical experts often overlook the benefits that matter most to consumers. (An efficiency advocate will talk about saving water via an ENERGY STAR clothes washer, for example, rather than talking about how the water-efficient washer reduces overall laundry time–which is way more compelling to someone who does 5 loads of laundry a week.) Similarly, I suspected that EV owners might point to benefits that weren’t getting a lot of attention in the literature.
Advocates talk about the environmental benefits and certainly a few of the owners who responded to my informal survey mentioned that. Mostly, though, owners mentioned more personal benefits—stuff that prompts them to choose to drive the EV when there’s another choice in their garage. These are the benefits that matter! While climate change activists are appropriately focused on EVs as a way to reduce emissions, EV salespeople and EV advocates should focus on the features that delight consumers. If you want more folks to consider purchasing an EV, talk up the torque and the simplicity of re-fueling your car at home overnight. Talk up the peace of mind relative to fumes as well as the peace and quiet that comes with an EV. Talk about benefits that resonate with buyers.
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