The EV market is a much different space today than it was when BMW first entered it. Nearly a decade later, the progress is obvious – and measurable. And now, thanks to Shaun Bugbee, Executive Vice President of Operations, BMW of North America, we have a bit of an inside look at how things have ramped up. From dealer knowledge to customer satisfaction and an expanding charging network, here’s what Shaun Bugbee shared with the media in a recent presentation.
Dealer Knowledge and Customer Satisfaction
“The way dealers are set up, if they’re not comfortable talking about electric, a customer walks in and they walk that customer right around the electric car to the combustion car,” Shaun starts. He cites extensive mystery shopping – even recording some interactions. But it’s getting better. At the end of last year, dealers scored a paltry 67% on the mystery shop for EVs. Today, it’s around 95% – a marked improvement. It’s likely linked to the second half of his statement – an overall happier customer.
“We measure satisfaction in Net Promoter Score [NPS],” he says. “That’s pretty much the industry average. Last month marked BMW’s highest cumulative NPS for full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – 91%, the same sentiment as gas-powered vehicles. “So, I think what we’ve done over the last six to twelve months is get our dealer network more engaged with understanding BEV and making sure that that is actually being conveyed to our customer base as we want to grow that business going forward.”
Shaun also points out that BMW is far ahead of many competitors in the charging and education space. “We spent a lot of time on charging even before the iX and i4 came out in March of 2022. Two years prior we started a charging effort to make sure we had the right charging capacity at our dealers, both level two and high capacity chargers that are in place today.”
Public Charging and BMW
“We want to have access to as many chargers as possible on the network, and we want to take a leading role in building that infrastructure going forward.” It is a noble sentiment and one that matches BMW’s actions. In case you missed it, BMW partnered with six other major OEMs to make significant steps forward in the public charging space. It will be responsible for 30,000 more high-capacity chargers by the end of 2030. BMW also offers customers free (though limited) charging through Electrify America, and a new partnership with Shell Recharge grants access to 100,000 additional chargers throughout the US. Finally, Shaun announced that BMW will move to NACS charging standard beginning in 2025.
Shaun had one last bit of info to share with us: the continuation of the ChargeForward program. Pioneered on the West Coast, it’s a way for BMW drivers to save money and energy with their utility companies. “Customers, from a digital interface, can choose to charge when the renewable energy is at its peak,” he says. “They work with the utility companies, and then through the app, they can charge off-peak times, but they’re getting renewable energy, and there’s a financial incentive for the customer.”
The program will be rolled out nationwide, the beginning of what Bugbee calls “smart charging.” Smart charging is, according to Shaun, “looking at off-peak hours renewable energy, lower carbon footprint, but it’s also the gateway for us to bi-directional charging. As we bring cars starting in 2025 that have bi-directional capability. Then the car can be a power source in addition to, obviously, doing its smart-charging at off peak.”
He closes with an important sentiment. “There’s a lot of discussion on product. But I think some of those ancillary services are obviously as important as well from a customer satisfaction perspective.” Who could argue with that?