- Under the title “What’s next?”, Aiways continues its series of interviews with experts from industry, business, and politics
- A conversation with Stefan Müller, managing director of B&M Marketing GmbH
- You must experience electromobility in order to understand it; the art is to reduce in the right places so as not to overwhelm
- The change in values and paradigm shifts offers a great opportunity, especially for new brands
Shanghai / Munich, December 8, 2021 – Under the title “What’s next?” Aiways continues a series of interviews with interlocutors from industry, business and politics. The third conversation partner is Stefan Müller, managing director and founder of B&M Marketing GmbH in Schwabach. With Aiways’ Executive Vice President of Overseas Operations, Dr. Alexander Klose, he talked about the change in values and paradigm shifts in the automotive industry and specifically the opportunities for a new brand to better respond to changing customer needs. To put it in his own words: “You have to experience electromobility yourself. If you then ask the customers after a quarter of an hour what they are missing, most of them will answer: actually nothing!”
How do you build a brand when it’s still unknown?
Stefan Müller: “You need a definition. A brand needs to have clear rules to which it can adhere. Otherwise, it cannot establish itself. Only in this way can a company structure itself and create differentiation. With this difference, now also called “purpose”, you then have a good foundation for a brand.”
Why do you emphasize “purpose” in particular?
Stefan Müller: “I’m actually not a huge fan of this word, it wore off very quickly. Because there is usually little behind many brands. Only if the “purpose” has meaning will it advance a brand. Because only if you give the word real depth will it bring something. But it is often just a word.”
Dr. Alexander Klose: “We as Aiways clearly see our purpose in the democratization of electromobility. We want to create a brand that enables people to get started with a new form of driving.”
Do you need a new brand for that?
Dr. Alexander Klose: “In the past, many brands have disappeared from the scene, especially in the automotive industry. That has changed with the move to electromobility. We see this as a great opportunity to establish ourselves in the market because we have a unique selling point. Because building a car is incredibly complex, it takes a lot of different components that have to be perfectly coordinated. We have this expertise at Aiways and, as a startup, we are still lean enough to be able to react quickly to new conditions and developments.”
Stefan Müller: “I also see a decisive advantage here. Aiways already has a clear profile and a product with substance. In contrast to others and their failed attempts to use old brand names or to start a new company with generic-looking products, these are much better starting conditions.”
How do you make the best use of these good starting conditions?
Stefan Müller: “With a good product that is convincing. Even if you don’t appeal to broad masses at the beginning, you will still inspire your customers. The positive feedback will multiply and remain anchored in the memory.”
Dr. Alexander Klose: “It is precisely this positive experience that is important to us. Something like a surprise effect, because we forego many of the standards that are known from legacy manufacturers. We do not run any dealers; no workshops and we do not have our own navigation system in the car. In this way, we can not only save costs and offer the vehicle at an unrivalled low price, but still provide our customers with the best possible service. To do this, we rely on partners who, for their part, have the best network and the greatest expertise, be it in sales or service.”
Are there also problems when a brand starts on a blank sheet of paper?
Stefan Müller: “The blank slate is both a curse and a blessing for a brand. On the one hand, you are a known entity if you’ve been in business for a long time. On the other hand, you can struggle with established customers and are always compared with other models from your own company. As a new manufacturer you can act much more freely here and a newcomer usually adapts more easily to structural changes, such as the impact from the current pandemic. There are also many new opportunities offered by young and future-oriented customers, for example in terms of communication channels.”
Dr. Alexander Klose: “The topic of communication channels is indeed exciting for us. By not having our own dealer network but having the opportunity to explain the benefits of electromobility in new ways. We see completely different mechanisms here than might have been used ten years ago.”
What do you mean by that?
Dr. Alexander Klose: “Our challenge is to promote a brand without its own retail chain. This pure and lean approach is one of the key points of our brand. Channels like Youtube, on which users of all age groups are represented, now offer us opportunities for explanation and interaction that we can control perfectly. You can also respond to direct customer feedback without any detours. That would not be possible with a classic sales channel.”
Stefan Müller: “That is indeed a major advantage of this approach. Because electromobility still raises many questions today. Customers need explanations, and some of them are completely different. While one may already have a first-generation electric car and only want to know the details of the operation, another still needs the total basics. But it’s also exciting that people are really interested in the topic. We see this every day in the use of our app “clever-laden,” because the number of users is higher than the number of registered electric cars. You can feel that more and more people are considering electric vehicles.”
How big do you think the market will be in the future?
Dr. Alexander Klose: “We are not concerned here with absolute numbers. Our goal is to first create the basis for everything that is to come. With the Aiways U5 we have created a very spacious SUV that easily stands up to the competition thanks to its comfort and convincing performance data and at a significantly lower price. It is much more important for us to roll out more products. From 2022 onwards we will launch a new model every 12 months and thus address ever larger customer groups. Because competition stimulates business.”
Stefan Müller: “That’s right, I always fondly remember the discussions among German manufacturers when it came to the introduction of a competitor to the successful Mazda MX5. The roadster market was small back then and only for fans. After the start of the SLK and Z3, the volume of sales has increased more than tenfold. In the end, all three vehicles became commercial successes. Something similar will happen with electric cars. And with the ever faster product cycles and constantly changing customer needs, we will experience market dynamics that we have never had before.”
What is your recommendation for customers in such a dynamic market?
Stefan Müller: “I would recommend a test drive to the customer. Many people still think in terms of the number of cylinders, displacement and acceleration, but everyday life is about completely different things. It is certainly also the case that very few can really describe what matters to you when it comes to a car, because it is often things of the subconscious that influence a purchase decision. ”
Founded in 2017, Aiways is a Shanghai-based personal mobility provider with its European HQ in Munich, Germany. It was the first Chinese startup to introduce an electric vehicle to the European market with the launch of the U5 in 2020 – a battery-electric SUV with impressive range, style, and quality. Aiways continues its expansion in Europe and beyond: order books are open in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy – with more markets to follow. The U5 SUV is produced at Aiways smart production facility in Shangrao – one of the most modern car production facilities in China. With an initial production capacity of 150,000 units per annum, Aiways can increase this number to 300,000 units when global EV demand rises. Aiways’ next model for Europe will be the U6 electric SUV-Coupé. With a focus on class-leading aerodynamics, intelligent technology, and sporty design, the U6 SUV-Coupé investigates the exciting future of the Aiways brand.
You can find all Aiways press releases and press kits, as well as a wide selection of high resolution, downloadable photographs, and video footage on the media website: http://media.ai-ways.eu/.
Aiways media contacts
Bernd Abel, Aiways Automobile Europe GmbH
James Parsons, PFPR Communications
+44 (0)7725 257792