Electric vehicle (EV) is not just a category of automobiles but a complete ecosystem. Today, EVs are touted as a potent arsenal to combat climate change. As of now, we have over 14 lakh EVs playing on Indian roads, recording the highest adoption rate of over 4 percent in 2022, against just 0.7 percent in 2019. India envisages electrifying 70 percent of commercial vehicles, 30 percent of total passenger cars, and 80 percent of total 2Ws and 3Ws by 2030.
On average, EVs today are 1.3 to 1.6 times more expensive than their ICE counterparts of which the battery is responsible for up to 60 percent of the cost and hence a critical decision point for an auto OEM.
Batteries are also the most pivotal factor governing the performance, reliability, and safety of any EV. Batteries also have the most influence on parameters such as range and charging time, making them crucial for every stakeholder in the EV ecosystem.
In a nutshell, there are two ways we can look at an EV battery — either to assume “It is after all just a battery” or to believe “It is the soul of an EV”. Let’s stick to the latter.
Now, here are some pointers a company should keep in mind on its brand-building journey:
Always start with the brand’s purpose
Why? Because the batteries themselves are a manifestation of that purpose. Depending upon, whether the brand’s purpose is to catalyse mobility, or make commute safer, or even spearhead sustainable energy, the resulting products (batteries) will accordingly differ in their DNA (chemistry), design, performance, etc. Hence, it is imperative to stay rooted in the brand’s purpose and make sure the purpose comes to life through the batteries.
Positioning amongst competitors
In an evolving category where every brand is either attempting to solve and promise everything or frantically attempting to claim some “first,” the battery brand must absolutely own a vacant area, value, or benefit within the customer’s perceptual map.
As marketing basics state, don’t aim to be everything or you’ll end up being recognized for nothing.
Given the importance of batteries in the EV sector, “Reasons To Believe (RTB)” such as innovation, intellectual property, and technological advances help to solidify the brand’s positioning in the minds of consumers.
Don’t just sell, partner
Battery companies cannot be the traditional set of peripheral vendors providing Auto OEMs; they must partner and collaborate rather than simply sell.
Unlike most other parts of an automobile, each battery is custom-made for a certain vehicle, platform, application, or even an OEM brand. Since there is much more to a battery than what meets the eye, it is vital for a battery brand to collaborate closely with the OEM from the product development phase all the way through post-sales service and support.
Be the voice of a challenge that the industry Faces
A battery brand can choose to be either the silent and hidden force inside the EV or the decisive voice for the industry as a whole. Considering that the battery is, after all, albeit the most vital component inside an EV, it is critical for the brand to drive conversations, campaigns, initiatives, or even consortiums towards a wider cause or challenge that the industry may be facing. This cause or problem could be a subset of the brand’s mission or an extension of a product, technology, or business innovation.
Solve for pre- and post-purchase dissonance
Post-purchase dissonance is nothing new, especially considering the ticket size of an EV. However, there is a large cloud of uncertainty that lurks both before and after the purchase of an EV.
Both sets of stakeholders, OEMs, and end users, require reassurance from an always-available source of information, a careful stack of FAQs and RTBs, and, more importantly, a 24×7 go-to team of technical specialists eager to solve not just on the shop floor, but also on the road.
Think through the complete lifecycle
While solving pre and post-purchase dissonance will address the anxiety of the customer, it is still a fragment in the complete lifecycle journey. Here is when the lens moves beyond the vehicle to focus on the End User. This change in perspective takes into account challenges such as charging infrastructure, on-road charging support, service and spares, untimely breakdowns, etc. While some of these can be partially or fully solved by the battery brand, leading conversations towards the rest and getting the complete ecosystem to come together, positions the brand as a pioneer within the industry.
Solve for the customer’s customer
Remember the famous tagline “Pehle istemal kare, fir vishwas kare” by RSPL Group for their product, Ghadi detergent powder? Well, it equally holds true for EV Batteries.
Given the higher CAPEX, the nascency of the technology, and the recent turn of safety accidents, how many OEMs, fleet operators, or individual users would be easily willing to take the plunge?
To develop that confidence and trust, battery businesses will need to innovate not only at the product level but also at the business level. Newer business models such as battery-as-a-service (BaaS), mobility-as-a-service, on-road charging support, digital tools integrating, and streamlining the charging infrastructure are all promising approaches to allow customers to test the product before fully investing in it.
Revisit sustainability at every step
It all started with making mobility and the larger world greener. Within an EV, the battery encompasses the largest chunk of embodied emissions and is also the most decisive component that influences its CO2 footprint.
A battery brand must inform the ecosystem and the stakeholders about the impact the EVs it has powered have made on the environment. It is also imperative for the brand to inform stakeholders of the impact it has made at large on the ecosystem through sustainable sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, etc. and to the point of end-of-life recycling.
Taking a leap of faith, unless for earth-shattering innovation, batteries will always be considered an integral and a hidden element of any electric vehicle; but confined only at a product level and its impact on the vehicle. But sooner do we speak at the brand level, the battery holds the potential to own a standalone identity, beyond the vehicle and even the industry for that matter.
To build an EV battery brand, what truly matters is defining the purpose of the brand, the value it aims to add to the stakeholders and its own RTBs that drive that cause.
(The author is the head of Brand Strategy and Marketing, Log9 Materials, a Bengaluru-headquartered deep-technology and advanced battery technology startup)
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.
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