Now it’s no secret that the automotive industry is in the midst of a big drive to build the most powerful electric car brands. It also plans to increase the number of electric and low-emission vehicles it offers to the public.

It’s also no secret that, across Europe, governments are also trying to lessen the shock (sorry, couldn’t resist) of going electric by adding various incentives.

The EU has even drafted a directive for all new or refurbished homes to come with an individual recharging point from 2019. This will have both positives and negatives (OK, we’ll stop now).

In both the UK and Germany, the respective governments have continued their £4,500 / €4,000 grants for electric and low emission vehicle purchases. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend the Ultra Low Emission zone prove that political willingness matches the manufacturers’.

Having ubiquitous tech in every low emission car will make them – and every brand – far too similar - Highlight to share -

And why wouldn’t they? The Institute of the Motor Industry‘s research suggests that the electric vehicle (EV) market could be worth £51 billion to the UK economy.

With numbers like that involved, it’s easy to see why all parties are keen to promote the next generation of electric vehicles.

Or, as Hyundai’s UK CEO Tony Whitehorn puts it:

“The consumers’ pockets determine the behaviour. The Government is key, not only for consumer behaviour, but for the [manufacturer’s] behaviour.”

Hyundai is particularly committed to rolling out a cost-effective fleet of electric and low emission vehicles. The South Korean manufacturer plans to produce 28 new near-zero emission vehicles across its Genesis, Kia and Hyundai brands.

There is a danger, however, that consumers see the pursuit for electric as an age of beige, or the dawn of the yawn. Basically, that having ubiquitous tech in every low emission car will make them – and every brand – far too similar.

The power that brands will play in growing and securing parts of the EV market is something that Whitehorn understands. With Hyundai, there’s an ability to surprise and, ultimately, convert:

“When people get into our vehicles, they are surprised. In a way that’s nice because our conversion rate is enormous.”

That customer surprise satisfaction is a REALLY powerful moment.

The surprise is positive and it’s making people buy the car. So how about trying to make more people experience that surprise?

What about capturing that moment by encouraging people to register their surprise in reviews, surveys and on social media?

Then your brand can capitalise on this positive surprise with user-generated content. And others can experience this change in attitude… without even going to the dealership.

Manufacturers are now having to think beyond just the addition of a touchscreen, or international SATNAV, or even a particularly ergonomic cup holder. - Highlight to share -

Of course, high performance and good drivability criteria will certainly evolve for EVs as the technology continues to progress. But at the entry point for the EV market, the vagaries of torque and horsepower feel a little, well, ancient. Maybe even superfluous.

That’s because the battle for brand recognition and loyalty will most probably come from two distinct areas:

First up, there’s battery power. For EVs to really accelerate out of the purely urban markets and be seen as a viable option for cross country travel, many hundreds of miles will be needed to be relied upon. It’s something that might not be so far off. A (admittedly Hydrogen, not electric-powered) Hyundai battery recently completed 406 miles on a single tank.

Customers care about this and they also know it’s one of the key challenges holding back electric cars. 

But while brands boasting about power stats might seem like another marketing drive, it is drivers talking truthfully about their experiences that will strike a chord with other potential drivers.

You let them speak for themselves and portray their experience in their own words through user-generated content. - Highlight to share -

Second, there’s the user experience – a phrase not readily associated with cars. Which is where technology can make really giant strides. Gone are the days drivers were impressed by heated seats. What about wearable tech that can help monitor stress levels? It’s just one of the ideas Hyundai are looking into.

Manufacturers are now having to think beyond just the addition of a touchscreen, or international SATNAV, or even a particularly ergonomic cup holder. That’s what can help them stand out in a market where competitors will look, at least on the surface, pretty similar. Individualism will be key.

So how do you show that everyone’s different, with different needs and priorities?

You let them speak for themselves and portray their experience in their own words through user-generated content.

The marketplace seems ready. Across Europe, EV and low emission vehicle ownership is on a steady rise. Norway leads the way with around 24% of its total automotive sales accounted for by these vehicles. And it’s no coincidence they have one of the highest numbers of charging units too. As governments and manufacturers know, new infrastructure and product pick-up go hand in hand.

Which all adds up to paint a fairly rosy picture for EVs in general. As for the brands, like Hyundai, who want to be at the forefront of this ‘electric revolution’, the ones that manage to show that they create user experience value beyond just the driving dynamics will ultimately finish in first place.

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How to build an electric car brand