To Win With Electric Vehicles, You Need to Build an Ecosystem
Controlling the future of the auto industry means building out a strong, profitable EV division.
Don't believe me?
Just take a look at what nearly every automotive manufacturer has done over the past 18 months. Many are dedicating billions of dollars and massive resources to not only develop new EVs but to control the future of the auto industry. By some estimates EVs will start to outsell their gas counterparts as early as 2035. If that is truly where the industry is headed very few companies are willing to risk falling far behind.
But to win with EVs a lot more is needed than just a good vehicle, without an ecosystem to support it much of this effort will fall short.
The Tesla Roadmap
Elon and Co. realized a long time ago that selling electric vehicles was going to take a lot more than a fast quarter-mile. You may be able to sell to the 1% but getting anywhere near mass market was going to take a lot more than that.
Tesla could have easily shipped the Model S without much of support system in place, but they would have relegated it to a mere side note of history. Instead they did something remarkably ambitious, they began construction of a coast-to-coast supercharging network. From then on Tesla owned the EV industry.
Its easy to see why some of the largest automotive OEMs on the planet are having a hard time catching up with the new kid on the block. Tesla has the most comprehensive EV ecosystem, with home battery storage, high-power home chargers, the supercharger network, over-the-air software improvements and the recently released mobile repair service. When you buy a Tesla you're not just buying that car, you're also buying into that entire ecosystem one that has yet to be matched.
The Contenders Are Starting to Take Notice
An ecosystem doesn't just create a better user experience, but it creates far more brand loyalty. Over 90% of Tesla owners plan to buy another in the future, showing just how strong the companies brand really is, and some competitors have started to notice their keys to success.
Ford recently announced the acceleration of its EV plan with a reported 16 new all-electric vehicles coming out over the next five years. While thats surprising in itself (until recently the only all-electric model was a Ford Focus compliance car converted from the gas-powered version) the real story was its effort to focus on the charging experience.
Ford wants to make the ownership experience so it is more seamless than gas-powered vehicles and that means making charging an effortless experience as well as offering full-vehicle over-the-air software updates to enhance capability and features.
By focusing in on charging and the ownership experience as a whole Ford has ripped a play straight from Tesla's playbook, and why not? Tesla is the industry leader when it comes to EVs so studying what they did and replicating it makes a lot of sense.
The Ecosystem Sells Vehicles
General Motors made waves when it got the Bolt EV to market before the Model 3. Not only did it get a sub-$35k vehicle on the road faster but had rave reviews and cleaned up on industry awards. Yet it only managed to sell 23,000 vehicles last year, while Tesla has half-a-million people patiently waiting for a Model 3.
The issue is the Chevy Bolt simply doesn't have access to all the things a Model 3 does specifically the supercharger network. While daily driving isn't effected by this long distance journeys can become a real pain. Not having a place to charge isn't the best situation for an EV owner, and is the biggest reason that's holding up the industry.
The VP of of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles at Ford put it best, saying,
“Throwing a charger in the trunk of a vehicle and sending customers on their way isn’t enough to help promote the viability of electric vehicles. In addition to expanding our electric vehicle lineup, we are redesigning the ownership experience to ensure it addresses customer pain points that currently hold back broad adoption today.”
One things for sure, EVs without an ecosystem simple don't work, and any startup or established OEM should make the effort to ensure their drivers aren't without one.