Electro mobility is one of the main bets in the fight against global warming. Electrification of transport, combined with new models of transportation, such as bicycles and carsharing, is expected to reduce the emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) that are generated by conventional internal combustion engines.
Government and private initiative investments have been made to enable e-mobility in several countries. Despite the promising results in the field, there are challenges still to be overcome to popularize e-mobility and the new transport models being proposed.
Among the challenges often cited, there are: cheaper electric vehicle manufacture, development of more efficient electric batteries and creation of a comprehensive charging infrastructure that brings safety for drivers to recharge their vehicles.
Most of the points presented above have been addressed by governments, research institutions and companies operating in the sector. However, it is worth remembering another fundamental element in the success of any new product or service that will also be relevant in e-mobility: consumer engagement.
Gamification is a technique widely used by companies for consumer engagement and can also be used to promote the success of new products and services related to electro mobility.
What is gamification?
There is no historical record of the first game invented by humankind, but it is certain that games have existed since the most remote times of our civilization. Despite their different formats and types — ranging from board games to electronic games — they have one aspect in common: the enormous attraction they exert on people.
Gamification consists in using game design elements and techniques in other contexts, such as education or business, with the aim of bringing some of the motivation that games exert on us to these contexts. As a rule, they use simple mechanisms (such as rules, scores, rankings and trophies) to create abstract and playful challenges capable of motivating people for hours on end.
It’s important to note that it’s not about turning a company’s business process or app into a game, but, rather, about using strategies common to games to engage users, promoting motivation or desired behavior changes.
Product or service gamification involves a careful design process, which must take into account the intrinsic motivations of users and the value proposition of the product. That is, it is not simply about creating a scoring and rewards mechanism, but, rather, about creating a more engaging experience, but that still makes sense to users.
Thus, the gamification process involves science, art and experience, balancing business goals with gaming elements in a solution that brings more motivation to users and makes the experience more fun.
Much of today’s products, especially digital products and services, and online communities use gamification to get greater engagement from their users. The technique has also been used in products and services related to electro mobility, helping promote a change in user behavior related to these new transport solutions.
BMW has created a solution that uses gamification to motivate drivers of the brand’s electric vehicles to have more sustainable driving habits. The BMW Points program encourages drivers of PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) to drive in electric mode, so as to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Customers earn points every kilometer they drive in electric mode. Points collected can be exchanged for other goods and services that are part of the program, such as credits for recharging your electric vehicles, motivating customers by allowing them to save on their vehicles’ recharging.
In addition, the BMW program also created a concept called eDrive Zones, which are geographical zones with restrictions on the movement of combustion vehicles, such as central regions of cities. The use of electric vehicles in these areas yields double points to customers who use the point system. Using geolocation technology, the vehicle can be configured to automatically activate its electric mode when entering these areas, ensuring higher scores for users.
BMW’s solution also brings challenges to drivers, such as encouraging them to explore many features of the car, a more interesting way to teach them about using their vehicles. Behavior changes, such as recharging vehicles outside of peak hours, are also encouraged through the program.
Drivers can also use the app to check how they compare to others by participating in competitions — for example, who manages to collect more points in a day or who charges their car’s battery more often.
BMW Points and eDrive Zone gamification solution; Source BMW
Fleetcarma, an American company working on SmartCharging solutions, is using gamification to prevent electric vehicles from causing overhead problems for power distribution companies. The demand of too many electric cars concentrated at peak times can overload the electrical distribution system and cause problems.
FleetCarma’s SmartCharge Rewards is a program that uses gamification to encourage drivers to recharge their electric vehicles outside of power grid peak hours. Thus, the system does not suffer from the concentration of recharges at specific times.
Scoring mechanisms, badges and trophies are used in its app to make the process more fun and engage users. Users are also invited to join the SmartCharge Champions community, where they can share statistics and experiences with other electric vehicle owners.
The solution also uses a device that is connected to the OBD-II port of the electric vehicle — this port allows communication with the vehicle’s electronic systems. With this mechanism, Fleetcarma is able to obtain information about vehicle recharges, eliminating the need for an external energy meter, which reduces the cost of the solution.
Fleetcarma badge; source: fleetcarma
Bird, a company that operates shared electric scooters, is using gamification resources to encourage members of its community of collaborators to search for scooters and take them to be recharged.
The app looks like a game, creating a more fun experience for community collaborators. The app creates challenges to make the process more interesting by, for instance, offering higher rewards for scooters that are harder to find.
Birds scooter refill, source: FindBirds
The electrification of transport is gaining more and more relevance, attracting the attention of consumers who seek to contribute to a more sustainable environment and companies interested in this new market.
There are several challenges to be overcome by companies in this path. One of them will be consumer engagement in electro mobility products and solutions. This article showed how three companies with distinct electro mobility products and services are using gamification as a tool to engage their consumers.
As the examples show, gamification can be a very interesting strategy to create customer engagement, as it makes the processes more playful and fun for consumers. Thus, it also helps users explore the different functionalities of products and services offered in e-mobility.
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