There are now over 760,000 fully electric vehicles on our roads, with new EV registrations now outstripping those of diesel by almost 75%.
Businesses need to take notice, especially if they want to capitalise on commercial opportunities that come with this rapidly growing market.
Part of this is understanding how driver behaviours change as they make the switch to electric. Convenience and availability of charging is a key part of an EV driver’s decision-making process; many drivers will structure their day around where and when they can charge their vehicle, so it’s important that businesses with on-site parking facilities provide the right level of support.
But sometimes, providing EV charging facilities alone isn’t enough to gain a competitive advantage. Early adopters like Sainsbury’s and Lidl have opted for free-to-use charge points for customers to entice them to their stores. However, free charging is unlikely to be a sustainable long-term solution, with retailers like Tesco now starting to charge fees to their customers.
Businesses will therefore have to think creatively if they want to develop brand loyalty among an EV-driving customer base. In this article, I’ll explore some of the ways they might do this…
1. Gamification of EV charging
Introducing a gamified element to charging an EV, such as leaderboards, challenges or even badges, creates milestones and fun challenges for drivers.
This will encourage them to keep returning to the same charging spot. In return, businesses can offer prizes through discounts and a light-hearted sense of friendly competition between drivers.
2. Loyalty Cards
Loyalty cards such as the Tesco Clubcard card have already proven hugely popular among consumers. Therefore, businesses might want to look into launching their own loyalty card for EV drivers. This scheme would allow customers to collect points each time they use the charging facilities and exchange them for rewards at specific point benchmarks.
Businesses could also offer favourable charging prices for scheme members, taking loyalty one step further by incentivising customers to visit their business or location rather than just one charging brand across multiple sites.
As a result, customers would not only be motivated to use a business’s charging points but to keep returning, building up their points and claiming rewards.
3. VIP perks
The average time to charge an EV can vary from 30 minutes up to 12 hours, depending on the vehicle battery size and the speed of the charging point. Therefore, businesses should offer good on-site amenities to encourage customers to stay longer and spend more.
Perks reserved only for EV-driving customers, such as free coffee or a complimentary car washing service, can generate a sense of exclusivity and appreciation for your customers.
Businesses could also provide EV-driving-only lounges with free Wi-Fi, offering a dedicated space to unwind while creating a sense of exclusivity for EV drivers.
GRIDSERVE Forecourt in Braintree is an example of an EV charging facility with premium amenities, including a lounge, office space to rent, and even exercise bikes that help power the chargers.
4. Partnerships and discounts
Collaborate with local businesses such as restaurants, coffee shops, or retail stores to offer discounts or special promotions exclusively for EV drivers who charge at your location.
This will create a mutual relationship where your charging point attracts customers to these local businesses while offering EV drivers incentives to visit your location.
5. Financial incentives
Financial incentives, such as exclusive discounts or vouchers, are great for businesses to attract EV-driving customers.
By integrating their EV charging payment system with in-store shopping, businesses can streamline the customer experience by giving them offers to redeem in-store. This will motivate customers to come back time and time again while also attracting new customers – possibly even through a referral scheme.
6. EV events and meetups
Hosting unique events or meetups that are exclusive to EV drivers could also help attract EV drivers. Planning events in partnership with EV organisations, such as test drives or vehicle displays, can provide a unique experience for drivers to network and connect with the business.
Hosting EV-exclusive events also creates a sense of community. Many EV drivers are passionate about their vehicles and the electric market, so they often enjoy connecting with others who share their interests.
7. Supporting sustainable causes
Having made the switch to electric, it’s likely EV drivers are conscious of the environment and are therefore likely to choose to support businesses with similar values. Businesses may wish to clearly demonstrate their environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments by donating to sustainable causes, volunteering with chosen charities or actively participating in the local community.
It’s essential that any ESG commitments are an integral and integrated aspect of your key business objectives and aligned to what you are trying to achieve, – as consumers are increasingly aware of the role of business in delivering social value.
8. Social media shoutouts
This is the chance to spotlight loyal EV drivers via your business’ social pages, creating a community spirit and connection with your brand. An engaging option can be to have a photo booth at your charging point or charging lounge, where willing drivers can take images and consent to be shared on your socials. If the business doesn’t have social media, the pictures could also be printed off and displayed in the charging lounge.
The transition to EVs is an inevitable step towards a more sustainable future and an opportunity for businesses to position themselves as forward-thinking organisations. With the UK government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, the clock is ticking for businesses to make the most of this shift and capture the attention of the growing EV market.
Drax is an electrification partner who can help plan, deliver, and optimise your businesses’ energy investments. We offer end-to-end support throughout the EV charging infrastructure process, from assessing site suitability to managing the charge points through long term operation and maintenance contracts
To find out more about destination charging and Drax’s consultative approach, visit https://energy.drax.com/electric-vehicles/destination-charging/
By Adam Hall, Director of Energy Services at renewable energy company Drax