Lesson from Missouri: EV buyers want choices, not lectures

REACH and our client, Ameren, set up an EV demo booth at the St. Louis Auto Show.

Electrical vehicle (EV) sales are up — and it looks like buyers love having more EVs to choose from. According to Inside EVs, April 2024 sales data show that EV sales have now outpaced sales of internal-combustion engine vehicles. That’s despite the fact that fewer and fewer of those EVs are Teslas.

At REACH Strategies, we’ve learned that the more we treat EVs like family cars and less like silver-bullet solutions to climate change, the more customers across the country respond. What American shoppers want most is the ability to choose an EV that fits their own needs.

Reaching Missouri car lovers

For the past 12 years, we’ve arranged EV demonstrations all over the country, but this year’s demo at the St. Louis Auto Show in January 2024 was our largest yet. Local dealers brought 400 cars and trucks to the America’s Center Convention Complex in downtown St. Louis. Tens of thousands of people attended the four-day event to check out the vehicles while they watched drifting shows and an indoor car run.

REACH helped our client, Ameren, set up a massive interactive exhibit with several components:
  • A diverse range of EV models, including the Rivian R1T, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and Tesla Model 3
  • 3-D displays that showed visitors the differences between Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, highlighting the EVs’ efficiency, environmental benefits, and potential cost savings
  • A full-scale garage showcasing home charging solutions
  • A mini-fridge plugged into the truck of the Chevrolet Silverado, showing some of the hidden benefits of driving a BEV
Our approach — show and tell — worked. Missouri hasn’t been one of the largest markets for EVs. Yet thousands of people stopped by Ameren’s display, and more than 1,400 filled out our surveys.

The insights we gained just through talking to Missourians affirmed that we’re on the right track: You can’t lecture people on how good EVs are for the environment. You have to let them kick the tires. Sit in the front seat. Ask a ton of questions about prices, repairs, and chargers. You have to help them imagine what it’s like to have an EV in their garage.

That’s why they’re attending a car show, after all.