Far from the EV Chasm: A long way to the EV Majority

Electric vehicle sales are rising rapidly, so it seems. But are they? And are we really helping motivate market transformation, or are we pushing the wrong buttons? We are now at about 2.7 million EVs on the road in the U.S. Since there are about 270 million vehicles in total, we are still just cracking the 1% mark (about 3% of new sales), which nationwide is still in the Innovator stage. California is far ahead of other states, and has reached the Early Adopter stage. But across the U.S, we need to press the accelerator in a huge way to even move into and past the Early Adopter segment.

Diffusion of Innovation describes how new products evolve in the marketplace. This is based on many decades of research and thousands of products that have been introduced, and EVs will follow these curves as well. Many, many new products fail, of course, and never reach the Early Majority. Geoffrey Moore wrote his book “Crossing the Chasm” many years ago, articulating the dangers of misunderstanding market evolution and the challenges we face in leaping across this chasm. We need to make sure that does not happen with EVs.

In a great discussion I had with market transformation expert Warren Schirtzinger, he highlighted the massive difference between Early Adopters approach to new products, and those who fall into the Majority. The key difference is RISK tolerance. The Early Majority won’t take on risk; the product/service/system they buy into must make them feel more comfortable, have more value, be easier than the substitute, along with peer groups already adopting it. I will talk more about this in my next blog.

I will continue posting about EV adoption and how our disproportionate focus on EV infrastructure vs. human-centered adoption approaches is stifling the market. I will also cover the Five Elements of successful products that move beyond the Chasm: trialability, relative advantage, compatibility with existing mindframes, simplicity, and social norms.