How to message electric vehicles in a charged environment

This week, we’re delighted to share our latest communication guide, The Road to Clean: How to message electric vehicles in a charged environment.

Rapid electric vehicle (EV) adoption is essential to eliminating the carbon pollution that is overheating our planet. While EV sales have been setting records, reaching the levels that we need will depend on support for programs that make clean vehicles more affordable (through incentives and expanded production) and more practical (through improved charging infrastructure and battery range).

We find ourselves at a critical moment as we move up the adoption curve. What messages and stories will be most useful? That’s what Potential Energy set out to learn. Over the last five months, we’ve conducted focus groups, online surveys, digital ad tests, and national message tests, reaching nearly 60,000 people across the ideological spectrum. Our most important takeaway is simple and inspiring: All audiences are movable, and the right framing and messaging can be a critical difference maker. This research shows how we can dramatically accelerate the transition to clean vehicles with the right communication.

That’s Interesting: Our Top Takeaways from months of EV research

Supporters outnumber opponents, but misinformation creates a risky divide.

Over half of Americans support “government programs that promote EV manufacturing & production” and “government programs that increase access & affordability of EVs.” For both, supporters outnumber opponents by more than a 2:1 ratio.

Support for policies and gov programs

That support, however, is sharply divided along political lines, with a 30%+ difference between Democrats and Republicans. That political divide remained consistent when respondents were asked about specific benefits of electric vehicles.

The right messaging can move all audiences.

While today’s support is more divided than we’d like it to be, with effective narratives, we can significantly move even skeptical audiences. In Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) tests, we exposed audiences to one of seven different pro-EV narratives and compared the results to those in an unexposed control group. The narratives we tested lifted the level of support for EV programs by between 5-13% (as context, in all our climate and energy text-based testing to date, the median increase in support is less than 3%). The best messages for key audiences reached nearly 20% shifts in support. This indicates that Americans are highly movable on this issue.

The top-performing messages (“reduce pollution,” “increase affordability,” and “tackle climate change”) squarely emphasized personal, direct, “what’s in it for me” messages.

The best message unites freedom of choice with clean benefits

Bringing it all together, Americans support EV programs that expand affordability and access, reduce pollution, and make EVs more practical and available. People clearly do want the option to make their next car a clean car. In fact, according to our data, 81% of Americans–even 61% of Republicans–expect to buy an EV at some point in the future.

Here’s what we can say today to build personal relevance and grow support for EV programs:


There’s much more detail in our communication guide, but clearly, at this critical juncture for electric vehicle investment, effective communication can play a big role.


Thank you for joining us for the ride,
John and Jessica