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  • Dylan Glover

Word Power


five things I didn't know about remote copywriting

Could the EV industry save themselves some serious headaches by changing a single word?

 

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‘Get an electric car’, they said. Wave of the future. Set an example. Join the revolution. Leave smelly fossil fuel in the past*. And we did. We plugged in, zapped up and zipped along. Sort of.

 

Range Rover

 

The car is ideal for the school run, pootling up hill and down dale, and short trips to the shops and back. Yet, despite the obvious positives, the dreaded range anxiety soon rears its head.

 

‘But you know where you’re headed, and how far the car goes!’ I hear you cry. True. And that’s where the small, yet rather important copy ‘issue’ comes in.

 

Going the distance

 

The car’s battery capacity is primarily presented as range in miles. Yes, there’s a secondary power bar, but the ‘mile range’ is the most prominent, bold as brass on the HUD.

 

I’ll give you an example. It’s 42 miles from my home to Bristol. The car’s range is quoted as 217 miles (we’ve never got near that). Fully charged, the display says 171 miles. Which means there and back and over 80 miles of energy to spare, right?

 

Nope. Mad as it might seem, I would probably stop for a short charge, either on the way there or back. Because miles doesn’t mean miles; range doesn’t mean how far you can actually drive. In this case it means power.

 

Aircon on? Uses power. Want to conduct along to Elgar as you gallivant across the Somerset hills?** More power. Windscreen wipers? Yep, power again. Taking a passenger? Have a guess…

 

By the time you’ve rolled past the Bristolian borders, you’ve ‘done’ over 100 miles for a journey that’s less than half. Combine this twisted logic with the inconsistent nature of the UK’s charging network, and it’s no wonder over half of all EV owners are worried about running out of juice.

 

Imagine if your phone presented its energy levels as ‘email capacity’ or ‘photos taken’; you wouldn’t be surprised to see those numbers drop when you did something un-email or streamed a TV show.

 

That’s the problem here. Drivers are so used to mile-based information - MPG when considering what car to buy, mileometers showing how far they’ve driven etc - that EV designers decided to stick with the same units. But if you’re driving a petrol or diesel car, you don’t expect your fuel gauge to decrease when you turn up the stereo.

 

Energy leveller

 

My point (yes, there is one) - switching ‘miles’ for the word ‘power’ could radically change how EV drivers perceive and accommodate their vehicle’s energy demands.

 

Thanks to the almost universal phone, tablet and laptop use, the public instinctively knows how to process ‘power’ as a measure of energy - percentage, numbers or a battery icon. Everyone knows that the more peripherals they use, the lower and faster their power reserve will go.

 

Perhaps it’s a simple settings switch, just like on your phone? Where you could choose from ‘Miles, Power or Go-Go Juice’?

 

Bringing more cognitive familiarity into EVs, with something as simple as changing a word, has the chance to improve the somewhat fragile and often suspicious perception that us Brits have with this new-fangled EV frontier. Made all the more vital thanks to those fast approaching and seemingly unattainable impending ICE bans.

 

But that’s my take on this very personal, super-niche issue - a ‘First World’ problem par excellence. What do you reckon? And what other words could we change to make a distinct, transformative difference?

 

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* Yes, I realise we’re still using fossil fuels to generate electricity. Thank you for reading this caveat.

 

** Try it. Two hands on the wheel, mind.


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1 Comment


Ricardo Moreau
Ricardo Moreau
Mar 06

Great piece. And good design thinking too!


Now if we could just solve the copy problem around the fact that EV's aren't a good solution because battery tech is limited by physics (yikes!)


But your idea works. Will share with friends.

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