Electric vehicles: charging into the future. Consumer insights by Ten Bear Group social listening agency.

As much as we love to lose ourselves in a good superhero movie, it is very much our job to save the day in this reality. In a world of rising temperatures and soaring gas prices, can we turn to electric vehicles for help?

The WHO has identified climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st Century. In a bid to tackle it, governing bodies around the world have established deadlines for new combustion engine sales. By 2035, the automotive industry will be almost completely electric, with EVs used for travel on land, water, and even in the skies. 

But are EVs the real-life superheroes that authorities believe them to be? To find out more about how consumers are feeling, we analysed organic social data between 1st January and 25th May 2022. The report covers over 6M mentions of electric vehicles from more than 3M unique authors across global markets.

Electric vehicles digital insights snapshot report by Ten Bear Group social intelligence agency.

Batteries and Charging

Batteries and charging are the most talked about topics in the online conversation around EVs. Many are concerned with limited access to charging points, and becoming ‘stranded’ as a result. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there is an average of one public charger for every 32 EVs in the UK today, compared to one for every 16 in 2021. The growing gap between charging points and EVs on the road is likely to fuel these fears. 

Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger Limited, a home EV charger sharing app, said: “The only approach that works is to start by sharing some of the hundreds of thousands of home charge points we already have, then plug the gaps with public infrastructure.” It’s a big ask for some customers to rent out their newly-installed, expensive home charging points. With little opportunity for financial gain or compensation for larger energy bills, companies may have to get creative with incentives.

Electric vehicles digital insights snapshot report by Ten Bear Group social intelligence agency.

Sustainability and ‘Greenwashing’

The question of how green EVs really are is a complicated one. Unfortunately, the EV manufacturing process does generate higher emissions; however, these are offset by energy efficiency over time. The report found both EV critics and advocates questioning if the environment can afford to switch. In particular, users are concerned with fossil-fuel powered electricity, pressure on supply chains to mine battery metals, and how toxic EV batteries will be disposed of. 

Consumers demonstrate appreciation of transparency when it comes to electric vehicles. Many understand that EVs are yet to reach their full green potential due to lack of renewable energy sources. Information is key to consumer buy-in; companies focussed on doing – instead of selling – all they can, have a greater chance of success in the EV market. Brands may do well to run campaigns explaining their work towards a sustainable future.

Electric vehicles digital insights snapshot report by Ten Bear Group social intelligence agency.

Financial Aspects

While governments are offering road tax relief for low-emission vehicles, electric cars are still considered expensive by many. Based on fuel prices alone, electric cars are significantly cheaper to run than those with petrol or diesel engines. This is understandably attractive to all affected by rising living costs; however, some argue that the benefits are irrelevant to people that cannot afford to buy a new car in the first place. As a result, companies should maintain awareness that any vehicle could be perceived as a luxury item. 

For some, EVs will not be in reach until they are available to buy second-hand. Though most of the cars sold each year in the UK are used, currently only a small fraction are electric. This means that many will have to wait longer for electric vehicles to become affordable.

“We’re committed to developing cars and technologies that open up the possibilities of electric driving to all.” – Volkswagen

Electric vehicles digital insights snapshot report by Ten Bear Group social intelligence agency.

Hero or antihero, electric vehicles are set to take over the world. And with all this shiny new technology comes a plethora of opportunities. Whether you are interested in sustainable living or finding a niche in the market, read the full report to find out more about the EV landscape.

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