Whether an auto dealership is on team EV or team ICE, communicating with new prospects and existing customers in a clear, concise and correct manner is an important part of operating a business.
There are a number of differences when it comes to an EV versus an ICE customer, Affinitiv’s Brian Wayne and Michelle Blakeley explained during a Friday session at the NADA Show Live Stage.
“It’s a changing landscape and almost changing daily,” said Wayne, President of Affinitiv’s EV Division.
Many of the early adopters of EV technology have already purchased their expensive, test-market EVs and now there’s a lag in EV adoption while the next wave of buyers waits for more affordable EV options to come to market. “We’ll get some lower entry models, below $30,000, later this year and that will help,” Wayne said.
The early EV adopters were also highly informed and did their own research before finalizing a deal at the dealership. The next wave of EV buyers will need a bit more education, so it will be up to dealerships to educate potential buyers on every aspect of the EV – from potential tax credits to any service needs throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. Retailers need to “have subject matter experts at the store, who can talk about total cost of ownership” and allay any concerns over infrastructure and range anxiety, Wayne said.
Most importantly, auto dealerships need to make sure their communications are targeted specifically to the type of vehicle buyer they’re reaching out to. For example, Blakeley pointed out that after she bought her EV, she received a reminder that she was due for an oil change. EVs, of course, do not use oil. A more relevant communications touchpoint would have been offering a battery health checkup or a tire rotation, Wayne noted.
Similarly, ICE vehicles and customers are going through a shift, Blakeley noted, including demographic changes. The current customer base is primarily Gen Z, who – unlike Millennials – actually seek out personal connection and want to come into the dealership to see cars in person. They’re looking for affordability but still want a lot of the technological enhancements they’re seeing in EVs, Blakeley said.
The current ICE buyer also puts a premium on communication, Blakeley said. In fact, 60% of Google reviews of auto dealerships specifically mentioned communication, whether the review was positive or negative.
“If Amazon has done anything for every industry, it has taught us that when someone wants something, they want it now,” Blakeley said. That has also bled into the service side of things. “We have to make it easy because it’s a $400 billion industry by 2024. We have to be ready, transparent and make it easy,” she said.
Affinitiv is an NADA Show Live Stage sponsor.
Watch the livestream from the Live Stage all week at NADA Show 2024.