Join us as we dive a little deeper into two web resources for the electric vehicle shopper, mncharging.org and evsalespro.com. We interviewed several EV experts, utility staff, and EV sales personnel to learn more.
First, to learn more about mncharging.org, we reached out to Jukka Kukkonen, founder of PlugInConnect, LLC. Jukka, tell us a little about this new tool.
The mncharging.org webpage provides an easy way for people to find their local electric utility’s resources for EVs. They just pick their utility from a drop-down list and are immediately directed to the utility’s webpage on the topic.
The purchase of an electric vehicle is not an event, it is a transition process with many steps, requiring buyers to obtain information from multiple stakeholders. Auto dealers are experts on the vehicles and sales process, but they don’t have expertise in the general household electric system—not to mention the grid side of things. This is where electric utilities come in. Utilities are experts in household energy and the electrification of transportation provides them an opportunity to become experts in transportation energy, too.
mncharging.org has received really positive reviews. People like that they have easy access to utility resources, dealers like that it makes their life easier, and utilities are happy to help their customers shift to driving electric. mncharging.org is produced by Fresh Energy and PlugInConnect with funding from Great River Energy and Minnesota Power.
It seems like there are now more programs across the state where you can charge your electric vehicle (EV) with renewable energy. Is that true?
This is clearly another advantage that EVs provide, the freedom to choose how your energy for driving is produced. With traditional internal combustion technology we are addicted to oil, but electricity can be produced from renewable sources, and increasingly is in Minnesota. You can naturally put solar panels on your roof, but many utility companies are providing renewable energy programs for their customers, so make sure to check those out, too. I think that the best example is Great River Energy’s Revolt program where they provide renewable energy for EV drivers for no extra cost.
More and more, car dealers are knowledgeable about electric vehicles. evsalespro.com helps people find dealers who really know the ins and outs about EVs. Can you tell us more about it?
Since it is still early in the growth of the EV market in Minnesota, the knowledge level of salespeople varies quite a bit. We wanted to make sure that we direct potential buyers to the most knowledgeable salespeople, so we set up the evsalespro.com webpage. Then we asked Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners to provide their recommendations, and based on those we listed the best salespeople there.
Great River Energy is thrilled to be able to refer auto dealers to mncharging.org. GRE an our members are actively engaging with car dealerships and sales people to make it easier for them to find utility information about electric vehicles. We believe they are car experts and shouldn’t have to memorize all the current utility offers out there so wanted to make an easy place to find them all. When we spoke with car salespeople about selling electric vehicles, the number one challenge we heard was that they needed a simple one-stop-shop resource to reference utility offers for their potential buyers. mncharging.org is the answer. This is the perfect and easy-to-use mobile-optimized website to refer car salespeople and consumers to all current electric-vehicle related offers from ALL utilities in the state of Minnesota. Every time we have presented the idea and site to car sales staff at dealership training—they thank us for the resource. We also believe it’s easy to use on a phone where they usually look for this information and hope it makes it that much easier to answer consumer questions about working with their utility on charging, etc.
A few months ago, our staff started seeing a huge increase in calls regarding charging electric vehicles and we realized dealerships must be getting flooded with similar questions. We decided to start offering a free Electric Vehicle training for dealerships to help them answer the most common utility-related questions we hear, which has been well-received! These websites have been instrumental in our training sessions; mncharging.org offers a quick way for dealership employees to bring up relevant utility charging information and the evsalespro.com site adds a competitive element to EV sales for dealership staff. Utilities and dealerships have an opportunity to partner together for the benefit of customers (and cooperative member-owners). Together, we can provide education and industry insight for those interested in electric vehicles, as well as some pretty awesome test drive opportunities!
I can tell you that being listed on evsalespro.com is a huge benefit and something that we worked for. I wish more folks knew about the site because I hear from folks all the time about not so positive results from showing up at dealerships that are not EV sales pros. I truly think that those not so positive experiences actually hurt the EV industry as it leaves a bad taste in the customer’s mouth about dealers. If they have the opportunity to work with sales staff that have a genuine interest and deliberate knowledge about the EV market, they tend to have a much better experience.
I show my clients the mncharging.org website almost daily. This is a great resource.
I can speak from great experience in how it has been helpful to me. On more than one occasion I have worked with a potential customer towards the purchase of a new Nissan Leaf. After some fact finding I realized that they were to see me because of evsalespro.com. They said that I had been recommended by other EV owners and that they were looking for someone that would give them an educated and enjoyable experience.
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