When Smart officials announced in late 2017 their plans to ditch internal combustion engines in favour of electric-only models beginning in 2019, they raised some eyebrows. Now it turns out they may be on to something. A recent survey conducted by AA suggests that the manufacturer and its European Smart car dealers may actually have a bit of an advantage once the transition is complete.
The survey in question was designed to gauge public opinion of electric vehicles (EVs). The general consensus in Europe has long been that EVs do not have enough appeal among a broad base to make producing them exclusively a viable business model. The AA’s survey turns that thinking on its head.
What the Public Thinks about EVs
The first and most important survey result is the that 50% of younger drivers are interested in owning an EV. That is in stark contrast to just 25% of their parents, a disparity that doesn’t matter to Smart. Since its inception in 1994, Smart has faithfully targeted younger drivers as their primary customer base. In Europe that has meant young professionals looking for an economical city car.
With that in mind, here are a few more statistics from the survey:
- 85% of the participants do not believe there are enough charging points
- 76% think that the typical EV doesn’t go far enough on a single charge
- 76% think that EVs cost too much
- 67% say that EVs take too long to charge
- 67% say there are not enough model choices.
The question is whether or not public perception is accurate. According to the AA, it’s not. For example, the AA maintains that there are now some 1,500 charging locations across the UK offering 16,000 charging points. The motoring organisation says an additional 340 charging points are being added every month.
The AA also says that range is improving. They say that costs are coming down thanks to grants and incentives that are now available on more than 38 models.
Why It’s Good News for Smart
Both DaimlerChrysler and Smart car dealers should welcome the results of the AA survey. Why? Because it is good news for them. Smart was the first company to efficiently announce an end to internal combustion engines, and they did so early in the game. Only now are governments implementing their own plans to force EVs in Europe.
That puts Smart in the driver’s seat, so to speak. They now have the opportunity to tap into that all-important millennial market that includes the 50% of younger drivers who want to own an EV. The fact that Smart has abandoned the internal combustion engine gives them a built-in marketing tool: “Hey, we were the first to do it!”
Smart’s early announcement has also forced them to aggressively pursue the best way to make an EV that customers will actually want. Their survival depends on it. As such, you can bet that Smart will be pushing to come up with something extraordinary.
BBC – https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44798135