Will extended test drives be the key to converting electric car doubters?

  10 November 2019

Lex Autolease this week launched a new initiative to help drive uptake of the Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33 electric van: extended test drives of up to two weeks. This is significantly longer than even Renault’s own two- or three-day extended test drives.

What’s more, it’s free.

Those signing up will get the support and guidance of someone from the Lex Autolease CV specialist team. The company has committed to the initiative for at least 12 months.

Britvic is one of the major fleets that’s already shown interest. Its national field service manager told ITT Hub that the extended loan “means we can confidently assess whether and how to start transitioning towards zero emission technology”.

It’s a bold move, and not an inexpensive one. But it’s Lex Autolease, you might say, which has more than 41,000 UK businesses on its books: it has the scale to be so bold.

However, it’s doing this with one key objective: convince those doubtful of electric cars that they really are a viable alternative to petrol and diesel. For lower-mileage users with return-to-base daily usage patterns, an electric van will immediately be more convenient than a regular vehicle, due to the need never to visit a filling station again. Lex Autolease is confident its initiative will give fleets this lightbulb moment – and reinforce this as the days tick on.

The call for auto retailers to offer something similar may be coming. Electric car technology is fundamentally different, and all but the early adopters will take some convincing. A fine way to do this is simply to let them live with it for a while; there’s a fair chance they will only reluctantly go back to their old car afterwards (and could well be itching to sign on the dotted line and get their own EV).

This will take some logistical planning. Sourcing the test electric car fleet in partnership with the OEM for starters. Making sure there are on-site facilities to fully charge them, quickly, ahead of each loan. Ensuring someone is readily available to answer any questions during the loan – the customer standing at a public charge point, panicking, will need immediate help and reassurance if they’re not to be put off electric cars for years.

For first-timers, electric cars never fail to amaze. But the questions over range anxiety, charging logistics and other housekeeping headaches are often not far behind. “How about you try living with it for a few days” might be the perfect answer to such questions.

As 2020 is going to be the year of the electric car, is it time to start planning how you and your OEM could offer an initiative similar to Lex Autolease’s bold commitment? Because the potential conversion rate might make all the effort more than worthwhile…

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