Educating EV consumers

Utility Transportation Electrification: Part 4

How to Educate Consumers About the Benefits of EVs

In this five-part blog series, we will dissect the key areas of a transportation electrification strategy. These points are expanded upon in D+R’s white paper, “A Utility Roadmap for Transportation Electrification.”

The series includes:
Part 1: Why Successful Implementation Begins with Collaboration
Part 2: How a Robust Charging Infrastructure Benefits Utilities
Part 3: Why Designing Effective EV Incentive Programs Matter
Part 4: How to Educate Consumers About the Benefits of EVs
Part 5: How to Ensure Grid Reliability for an Electrified Transportation Future

Developing a transportation electrification plan is key for utilities looking to advance transportation electrification in their service areas. While the transportation electrification strategies highlighted in the first three blog posts in this series are important and have been proven to be effective in utility service areas around the United States, some of them can also be costly. However, one of the least costly tactics is also one of the most effective: consumer education. In this article, we provide some potential methods for utilities to educate and connect with their customers, dealerships, EVSE manufacturers, and electrical contractors.

The most widely used type of EV activity among utilities is posting EV related information on their website. According to a survey of utilities conducted by Smart Electric Power Alliance, 25% of the 486 respondents stated that they provide EV information on their website making it the most popular type of utility engagement highlighted in the survey. This isn’t surprising considering initially this seems like a relatively low effort activity. However, it can be cumbersome to keep the website up-to-date and to tailor the information to be relevant to customers.

For that reason, utilities often use third party tools as a way to spread information about the logistics and benefits of EV ownership in their service area. ChooseEV, for example, is currently helping over 500 utilities in 36 states communicate how their unique rates impact their customers’ operation costs. The ChooseEV platform, a tool operated by Yenter group and distributed by D+R International, can provide information about carbon and financial savings of EV’s compared to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV’s), incentives calculators, and complete lists of EV’s currently on the market. Utilizing tools like ChooseEV can help relieve some of the burden on utilities and ensure that information is complete and accessible to all customers.

Market engagement is another avenue of outreach that utilities should implement in their strategy. In general, it is important to keep open lines of communication with these groups in order to better understand their supply and to provide information and materials describing incentive programs. In return, utilities can provide lists and information about participating stakeholders on their website and commit to promotions and incentive programs that will benefit electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) manufacturers and dealerships. With the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of ways for utilities to interact virtually with dealerships, EVSE manufacturers, and contractors. Although, in normal times, in-person interaction would often be encouraged, there are still ways to creatively engage and communicate online. Digital events, digital marketing campaigns, and out-of-the-box digital resources are just a few avenues to explore when brainstorming ways to engage with consumers.

To read more about market engagement and education and to learn about out-of-the-box ideas that utilities are already implementing across the country, check out section 4 of “A Utility Roadmap for Transportation Electrification.”

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