Stewart Stropp, 48, senior director of automotive retail at J.D. Power, spoke with Deputy Mobility Editor Pete Bigelow about their findings. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: WHY DID J.D. POWER WANT TO ANALYZE THIS? WHAT'S THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING HOME CHARGING?
A: The impetus behind this was seeing where the industry was headed and realizing there was definitely a need for more voice from consumers and a customer perspective. Home charging is the bread and butter, and what I mean by that is fully 88 percent of respondents in the study say they are charging at home "often" or "always." So there's no question that it is central to overall EV ownership.
Q: WHAT PERCENTAGE OF EV OWNERS ARE USING LEVEL 1 OR 2 CHARGERS, AND HOW HAS THAT IMPACTED THEIR HAPPINESS WITH CHARGING?
A: Well, 24 percent are actually using the Level 1 portable options, and a lot of those are owners of [plug-in hybrids] or shorter-range battery electric vehicles. The other three-quarters using one of the two Level 2 options, their satisfaction rates are a lot higher. That's largely driven by the Level 1 group's dissatisfaction with how long it takes to charge. Having said that, one interesting takeaway really speaks to an opportunity we see, and it's a general lack of knowledge on details when it comes to EV ownership. A lot of these EV owners are not familiar with the different types of incentives available around home charging.
Q: ARE CUSTOMERS SAVVY ABOUT SCHEDULING THEIR CHARGING TIMES, AND UNDERSTANDING THE COST SAVINGS THAT MIGHT BE DEPENDENT ON THE TIME OF DAY THEY CHARGE?
A: We see over half the Level 2 owners are in fact scheduling their vehicle at least some of the time. It's a lot higher than the Level 1 group, where you've got almost 7 in 10 never scheduling. That's big. It's not just about having the equipment but having what I guess you'd call the knowledge of process or action around using that equipment in a more efficient manner, in a way that optimizes the cost side of the equation.
Q: WHO SHOULD BE EDUCATING CUSTOMERS AND DEMYSTIFYING THIS PROCESS?
A: There's a big opportunity for utility companies, automakers, dealers and retailers. It's not easy right now for your everyday shopper to get details from one of those parties any more than the others. So I'd argue it seems the real opportunity is for those big stakeholder groups to get together and share ideas, collaborate and get the message out.