Using Big Data to Drive Customer Adoption of Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs)

Last summer, a report published by The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI), confirmed that “electrification is our biggest opportunity.”  Representing all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, the EEI, whose members provide electricity to more than 220 million Americans, predicted that without the rapid adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), the ability of their members to maintain sales volumes and restore viability to the electric power industry would be severely jeopardized. With nearly 93% of energy in the transportation industry today coming from petroleum, the growth of electrified transportation would not only drive economic growth and positively impact the environment – it offers utilities and regional energy organizations a chance to transform the way their customers view and use electricity.

But, there is more work to be done. The charging infrastructure issue is not yet solved and while the number of public EV chargers has increased in the last five years, more are needed. Even when PEVs have reached cost parity with gasoline engine vehicles, the lack of home charging may ultimately be the most significant barrier to the adoption of PEVs. It should be noted that approximately 80% of all electric vehicle charging occurs in residential homes. Bloomberg New Energy’s Electric Outlook 2017 report noted that in its models, countries such as China, the U.S. and parts of Europe that have taken an early lead in PEV adoption will most likely hit an “infrastructure cap” in the mid-2030s, resulting in a significant decline in sales growth.

​Additional resources and investment by utilities in key areas are needed. Consumer PEV incentive programs to boost PEV charging, workplace charging incentives with commercial customers, and outreach and education are all crucial to sustaining the momentum of PEV adoption rates. In addition to the ongoing initiatives related to infrastructure development and accessibility, utilities and regional energy organizations also have a real opportunity to shape their customers’ attitudes and help them make informed decisions about PEVs.

In order for utilities to gain a better understanding of the current EV market, research is needed. When it comes to outreach and education, combining information about customers, their attitudes, interests and knowledge of EVs with a sound integrated marketing strategy, utilities and regional energy actors can make a substantial impact on:

Customer engagement.  Building a strong database of customer interests and home/work building attributes can deliver insights into not just who your customers are, but where they are, what they want, how they want to be contacted and when.

Customer retention and loyalty. Gathering insight on customer preferences can help utilities discover what influences customer loyalty and what keeps them coming back.

Marketing optimization. Through market data, utilities can determine their optimal marketing spend across multiple channels, as well as optimize their outreach programs through testing, measurement and analysis.

Market transformation. With valuable insight into the EV market and the tools needed to educate and inform customers on the value of EV’s, utilities have the opportunity to stimulate deep market transformation by working together with local and national partners.

​Having the right educational tools helps utility customers make smart transportation decisions. That’s where we can help. D+R International (D+R) is leading a significant outreach effort to utilities, both public and private across the United States and Canada. In collaboration with utilities and industry partners, D+R developed the ChooseEV Digital Toolkit, a first of its kind a comprehensive set of tools designed specifically for utilities enabling them to quickly and consistently educate their customers the value and benefits of electric vehicles. Along with market research and partnering initiatives, D+R offers business intelligence delivering the most current and actionable data. We also work with our clients to develop strategies and tailored programs to increase adoption of energy-efficient products and practices, like PEVs. To learn more about how we can help you make sense of data and trends, contact D+R International today.