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‘The Game’s Changing’: New EV Buyers Are Throwing Brand Loyalty to the Wind

New electric vehicle buyers are just as likely to have owned a Subaru as a Porsche, according to one EV maker.

An EV charging Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Brand loyalty is a foundational component of any sustainable business. But some start-up EV makers are are hoping for the opposite—at least for now.

As more and more EVs enter market, car makers are realizing that customers are willing to consider new brands, even turning away from marques they’ve driven for decades, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. That’s thanks in part to the scarcity of EVs: There are currently 53 electric vehicles on the market or soon to be rolled out, compared with 625 car models sold overall in the United States, according to data from the research firm J.D. Power.

That means automakers are seeing EV buyers coming from all over. Almost 80 percent of people who bought Kia’s EV6 traded in something other than a Kia, the research site Edmunds noted. More than two-thirds of customers for Ford’s Mustang Mach-E had non-Ford trade-ins. And Rivian said that its customers are just as likely to own a Subaru as they are a Porsche.

In the past, brand loyalty among car buyers was much more pronounced, and it still may be outside of the EV market. On average, about half of people return to the same car company when buying another vehicle. But those looking to buy an electric vehicle have far fewer options, leading them to perhaps look elsewhere. Steve Majoros, the head of marketing for Chevrolet, told the WSJ that usually car buyers consider price, then manufacturer and model. But the priority for an EV buyer is the electric aspect of the car, so they’ll go where they can to find one.

“The game’s changing pretty significantly,” Majoros said.

Of course, EV makers are hoping that brand loyalty will kick back in for them—that their customers will return to buy their EVs again and again. So far, the data seem to bear that out: 64 percent of people who owned an EV and bought a new vehicle stuck with the same brand, according to J.D. Power.

Whether EV companies will be able to conjure the kind of brand loyalty once reserved for legacy automakers remains to be seen. But given the spate of impressive EVs coming to market in the next three years, we wouldn’t bet against it.

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