General Motors is investing $35 billion into electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025 with hopes every driver makes the switch.
But what if you’re a rural driver afraid you’ll run out of juice before you find the next charging station? Or a renter without a garage to house a residential charger?
Recent Terry alumna and General Motors assistant manager for electric vehicle training integration Elyse Hart faces these quandaries and turned to a group of Terry students to help generate new, inventive solutions to GM’s marketing challenges.
Hart worked with GM’s marketing arm to develop “EVerybody In: General Motors and an All-Electric Future” — a business case study for use in business courses. Rick Watson, the Regents Professor and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy involved with UGA’s campuswide electric mobility initiative, volunteered to pilot the study in his Business, Systems, and Technology Innovation course.
“This is a unique time for GM and the automotive industry,” Hart told the class while introducing the case study in September. “We have to teach people the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 charging while also trying to sell our vehicles.”
“I’ve done a lot of this in my class, where we look at an emerging technology and try to identify and solve the peripheral issues, but this case study helped to formalize it,” Watson said. “And it’s allowing students to help solve the types of problems they may be asked to address when they enter the workforce.”
Because this was the pilot case, GM provided the winning group of four students $1,000 a piece in addition to the valuable experience. The three members of the running-up team each received $500.
The students were charged with taking a specific group of consumers who might not be a natural perceived adopter of EVs — such as rural drivers, renters or people living with disabilities — to identify the barriers preventing them from adopting EVs and develop solutions to overcoming those barriers.
Hart teamed up with UGA alumna and local Cadillac district sales manager Ashley Clark and GM Southeast regional electric vehicle retail readiness managers Cody VanderVeen and Ashley Breault to judge the final presentations on Oct. 6.
Students presented strategies for reducing range anxiety for rural drivers and reducing the costs of charging stations. But it was the team of John Sparkman, Brian Chung, Victoria Horbulewicz and Carter Allison, whose plan to boost renter’s adoption of EVs by leveraging partnerships with rental companies to drive EV rental opportunities to large apartment complexes, which wowed the judges and won the $4,000 in prize money.
“The winners did a fantastic job demonstrating an understanding of the multifamily housing dweller segment and proposing data-driven, actionable solutions that solve real-world customer pain points,” Hart said. ”We knew that the topic was somewhat vague, given that there’s a lot of work to be done to demystify EVs for consumers, so we were impressed with the grasp students had on the EV landscape.”
For more information about Terry College’s involvement in energy informatics and the UGA Electric Mobility initiative, contact Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.