Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption


November 4th, 2021

Post by Alex Slaymaker, Smart Columbus Smart Mobility Adoption Manager

The Smart Columbus Ignite Action Fund is one of the tools the Acceleration Partner program uses to create new incentives and projects that motivates central Ohio residents to drive electric and/or drive less. The purpose of the fund is to help Smart Columbus’ employer partners accelerate the timeline for launching new mobility benefits by reducing a barrier- cost. 

The Ignite Action Fund is one part of a larger initiative by Smart Columbus to increase consumer electric vehicle adoption to 1.8 percent by 2020, from a baseline of 0.37 percent in 2015. This shift represents a nearly 500 percent increase over three years — a very bold vision. 

Alliance Data and AEP Ohio, an AEP company, were the first in the region to complete an EV rebate program as a participant in the Ignite Action Fund. Each company was awarded $15,000 in match funding to launch an EV purchase or lease rebate program for new or used plug-in EVs. 

Alliance Data is leading the region’s large employers with their holistic approach to ‘driving less’ and ‘driving electric.’ The company offered EV workplace charging prior to Smart Columbus programs, with  20 stations at one complex. Alliance Data launched a $2,000 (post-tax) EV purchase or lease rebate for all their associates in the seven-county Columbus region, and a $1,000 (post-tax) rebate enterprise-wide. The program launched in late July 2018 and all rebates were claimed by mid-September, driving the immediate purchase of at least 15 EVs.

AEP is a foundational partner of the Smart Columbus initiative and an electrification leader. In Round Two of the Ignite Action Fund, AEP Ohio executed an EV rebate program for employees of both AEP and AEP Ohio and set a new record, awarding all 15 rebates in less than 30 days. 

EV models purchase were diverse in model and price. Also, the majority of participating associates fit the early adopter demographic of making more than $100,000 per household annually and earning a higher education degree. Almost half of participants bought or leased an EV within 12 months because of the employer rebate program.

EV Rebate Best Practices
Rebates are a great incentive to drive adoption when combined with initiatives designed to educate employees on the benefits of driving electric and available models. As with any benefit or workplace program, internal coordination and streamlined processes are key to success. Effective tactics and lessons learned from these two projects include:

Mobilize an internal team to create, promote and manage the program. 
Include representatives from human resources, event planning and communications departments, at a minimum. 

Establish a tracking tool for HR to manage rebate requests without creating an administrative burden. 
Consider using the template adapted from Alliance Data’s program, included in attachments. 

Invite a community partner to provide an EV 101 presentation to raise excitement and dispel myths. 
In this case, the Smart Columbus team provided the presentations. 

Host a test drive event with a variety of fully electric and plug-in hybrid EVs.
According to our surveys, 21 percent of AEP/ AEP Ohio and 33 percent of Alliance Data rebate participants went electric because of the Ride & Drive Roadshow event hosted by Smart Columbus.

Create a robust communication strategy for rebate promotion. 
An effective communications campaign requires a consistent drumbeat of promotion across multiple mediums. Work with leadership to announce the program (i.e. town hall, all-staff email). Coordinate with supervisors to ensure all associates, including those without email, are informed.

Create an internal FAQ webpage.
Intranet pages by our partners included programmatic details like the method of rebate distribution (i.e. via paycheck Sept. 14th), eligible vehicles (i.e. no e-scooter or e-motorcycles) and proof of purchase requirements (a proof of purchase letter from the dealership). A thoughtful FAQ page will ensure HR isn’t overwhelmed with questions.

Leverage standard workplace communication tools including fliers, intranet, digital screens, social media and e-newsletters. 
Cross promote additional incentives for specific models and residential charging station purchase/ installation. 

Create a plan for workplace EV charging.  
Our partners have seen increased demand for workplace charging stations after the number of associates driving electric increased. For example, Alliance Data is considering installing more charging stations and is taking a creative approach to creating a charging etiquette policy. The Alliance Data team is convening staff who drive electric to crowdsource their policy and practices.


Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest from Smart Columbus.