September 6, 2019

From 2% to 36% in under 60 seconds?

Online utility choice engines create a level playing field for EVs – and car buyers go electric

Written by
Anne Arquit Niederberger

I recently found the time to compile an update on Enervee Cars and the top learnings from our Cars choice engine deployments across the country – from New York in the East (Con Edison Cars) to California in the West (SCE Cars) and Ohio (AEP Ohio Cars) and Michigan (Consumers Energy Cars Comparison Platform) in between.

Cars platform updates

Let me begin with some product updates. Our first Cars deployment was in July 2018. Since then, our engineering, data and front-end developer teams have been hard at work executing on our technology roadmap, and we’ve continuously upgraded the site, most recently with:

  • Full coverage of 2018, 2019 and 2020 vehicle models
  • Personalized commute configuration, which allows users to input their home and work address, so we can calculate their commute and recommend EVs that provide the necessary range, as well as providing more accurate total cost of ownership estimates
  • Improved EV charging station map solution that directs out to a pre-filtered view in Google Maps (or your phone’s native map app)
  • Time-of-Use (TOU) feature that can be enabled by utility Partners to allow users to choose when they plan to charge their vehicle, tied to TOU rates.

Going forward, even more innovations are in store, including expanding the range of costs included in our total cost of ownership (CLEARCOST) comparison, which already makes clear that EVs are more affordable than most consumers think. Customers will also be able to see their monthly cost of owning/leasing the vehicle, based on how they plan to finance it, as well as the Return on Investment when replacing their current vehicle with a specific EV model.

Let’s turn now to the results we’re already achieving with our utility partners.

Cultivating EV purchases

Google identified 5 key moments in a car buying journey, which Enervee Cars caters to in the following ways:

Chart
Enervee Cars for Moments that Matter

We have new evidence that, by doing so, the Cars platform raises EV awareness and nudges conventional car shoppers towards EV options, rather than merely preaching to the choir.

Unlike EV-only sites that may not resonate with most in-market ICE shoppers, the Cars platform presents all car models and offers an opportunity for the uninitiated to discover and explore EV options organically, not the least by comparing combustion and electric models side-by-side for instant insights on features that matter most to consumers.

Chart

Here are some indications that utilities can use Cars to effectively engage conventional vehicle shoppers along the path from awareness to interest, desire and, ultimately, an EV purchase:

  • Over 10% of visitors who viewed a car with an efficient vehicle recommendation clicked to view the recommended model, nearly 80% of which were EV models
  • In over 60% of sessions during which an ICE car model was viewed, visitors also clicked on an EV offer through TRUECar or Tesla
  • Among people who applied for a $250 EV Reward from their utility, 23% were originally considering gasoline or diesel models when they began their car shopping journey and were persuaded to buy an EV.

Seventy-five percent of people who click to our aggregator partner TRUECar are seeking dealer offers for electric vehicles. Adding those who click to view Tesla offers, 82% are looking for prices on EV models.

It is also consistent with several survey data points (with the caveat that such surveys are subject to self-selection bias):

  • With the Cars platform, 63% of survey respondents across deployments say they’re more likely to buy an electric vehicle.
  • Of those who bought a car after visiting the site, one-third actually bought an EV.

As we expand our deployments across the country, we’re finding that such metrics are surprisingly consistent across our utility partners.

…and interest in home EV chargers

We are also seeing interest in EV chargers on the platform, including both clicks to the EV charger category, currently featuring over 30 models across the full range of leading brands, and referrals to our partner Home Advisor, to arrange for home charger installation. In fact, we’ve recorded roughly twice as many clicks to EV chargers as to TRUECar/Tesla offers.

Marketplace screenshot
Seamless integration between SCE Cars and SCE Marketplace charger category

Among survey respondents who bought an EV (and applied for an EV reward), 31% used the utility Marketplace to shop for an EV charger. This indicates that people who don’t yet own a home charger also benefit from a suite of seamlessly integrated choice engine offerings. This is consistent with in-house consumer sentiment research, which revealed that when considering buying an EV, 84% said it would be important to know about home charging equipment and installation services before making their final decision.

Utilities offering Enervee Cars viewed more favorably

The clearest indication that utility Cars deployments deliver value to customers is that 75% say their experiences with the website have given them a more favorable opinion of their energy provider overall, while none walked away with a less favorable view.

This result does not surprise us, given consumer sentiment research published previously, which showed that the vast majority of people expect their utility to help them discover the benefits of going electric, but don’t think they are currently doing enough.

Enervee Cars seems to be hitting the mark, by providing useful information for both EV neophytes and “never-go-back” EV champions, as presented in a previous blog post. With data from more deployments, 71% found their utility Cars platform useful in facilitating their car shopping experience.

Utilities that offer EV rewards will not only accelerate EV deployment; they will also reap the benefits of happy customers, as evidenced by the following survey results:

  • 85% found UtilityCo Cars useful in facilitating their EV shopping experience
  • 92% were satisfied with the platform overall
  • 92% would recommend the site to a friend, colleague or relative.

We’re encouraged by the growing body of empirical results – and the degree of consistency in perceptions and platform behaviors across deployments. Stay tuned for more Cars launches this Fall and exciting product innovations in Q1 2020!

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