Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) launched an aggressive electric vehicle (EV) charging station program in 2015, placing more than 1,000 stations throughout its service territory. With energy efficiency products driving down residential energy usage sales, the electrification of the transportation sector offers a significant new business opportunity for KCP&L. The KCP&L Clean Charge Network became the largest utility-owned EV network in the U.S. During the buildout, early marketing efforts focused on spreading awareness of the network’s scope, eliminating the issue of range anxiety. Building on that success, our next step was to encourage EV ownership by customers in our service territory.
At the launch of the Clean Charge Network, there were about 80 EVs in the KC metro. Though the early adopter audience (primarily older, affluent white males) was a valuable market sector, it was vital to expand that audience considerably by emphasizing the fun factor, efficiency and affordability of electric cars. We also capitalized on research that shows potential car buyers spend 75% of their total car shopping time online to help us tailor out outreach.
Using quarterly data provided by IHS Automotive, the research arm for the automotive industry, we set our objective to be in the (Goal 1) top 5 U.S. cities for electric vehicle growth quarter-over-quarter by quarter 3 of 2017. Prior to the campaign, the Kansas City region was not listed in the top 15 cities for electric vehicles. IHS releases their data after each quarter, so we could measure our results and make changes throughout the yearlong campaign if needed. We believe this marketing goal can help us accomplish an overall business goal of (Goal 2) increasing kWh energy sales for electric vehicles by 100 percent from 2016–2017. We laid the groundwork by working with local car dealerships, built an EV Driver Affinity Group, partnered with Nissan, developed a multi-pronged advertising approach and built a customer microsite.