This project aims at developing a prototype of an electronic car charger such that same can be tested and then launched in the market for selling. The project would cover all activities that would be required for developing and marketing of the electronic car charger. The report would explain how the development innovation would be made possible practically starting from processes involved in the development of the product and its marketing to make the innovative idea reach the target customers. The development would include designing of the product, technical development activities and testing of the prototype.
The key challenges involved in this project include an understanding of the potential of the target market and a decision that has to be taken about how the product can be launched in the mass market.
This car battery charger is an electronic device what would receive the power from mains at the night time to charge the car battery when the electricity demand would be low. This device would also act as a backup electricity provider for the house if the mains got disconnected through the transfer of energy from the car battery to house electricity board.
Innovation Development Activities
The aim of this project is to develop a car charger which would further present the opportunity to make sales and earn some business from the same. This can be considered as a project that would require some development activities to be completed, and these include market segmentation, customer needs analysis, sustainability study, ethical considerations and societal factors (A GUIDE TO BATTERY CHARGING, 2012).
This project would require from company to manufacture or develop certain parts required for developing the complete set of car battery charger including case, cable, circuit board, control panel, a microcomputer and required software.
The project sponsor is the company called Car Charger Ltd which is based out of UK. The company has some internal capacities that would be used for development of some of the parts required for the implementation of the final product for charging a car battery. These include the outer case, main power charge, control panel and the software for controlling Microcomputer and interface operations.
The key market of the electronic car charger is the UK and it is segmented into three types of customers and these include individual car owners who are looking for car charger for them on the vehicle and the dealer of the electric car or similar hybrid vehicles and public use vehicles like taxis (Conley, 2008). The individual car owners are expected to charge their car batteries at night, and thus, the vehicle car charged is designed in a way to make the most use of the electricity at night. Major vehicle types that would use the electronic car charger would include hybrid electrical vehicles, plug-in electrical vehicles (Lane, 2015).
Customer requirement analysis
The UK customers, in this case, include those institutions or individuals and using the electric car, and the same are divided into different segments that have different needs. Individual consumers make use of the vehicle mostly on the daily basis in the day time and thus, they have time to charge only at the night. The benefit of charging at night is that the electricity load is minimum and thus, to cater to this need the product is shaped in such a way that the car can be charged fully within controlled hours of the night by extracting maximum power during the time (Market Power and Pricing Strategies, 2012). These individual at times also face power cuts and look for inverters. With this car chargers ability to connect with mains and replace this need of inverter, the consumer would be able to receive an additional benefit.
Dealers of the electric car vehicles are mostly interested in making more sales of their cars so if they can provide the charger along with the car at inclusive and discounted rates, they can attract more customers for this exchange of benefit. Thus, to satisfy this need, they can have a tie-up with the organising for a number of car charges in a lot and would expect a wholesale pricing. Thus, to satisfy this need of the dealers, the company has to sell them the car charger at much-discounted rates against a specific number of sales of the charger. Good relationships with these dealers would assist the organization in making more sales as all those customers coming to these dealers are likely to take the car charger from them if offered and even if they are not coming for car purchases but only for the replacement of the chargers, the inputs given by the dealers from whom they have made the car purchases would matter a lot to the customers. With good relationships and benefits extended by the company to these dealers, the dealers would promote the car charger of the company in the market. To enable this, the company has to arrive at discounted pricing for dealers and make benefit and relationship building strategies for the dealers. For this, dedicated sales staff would be allotted who would keep connecting with the dealers to build personal relationships and also resolve any issues that are causes related to the product, its deliveries or technical issues (GSMA, 2012).
The public vehicles majorly include taxis and these taxis either belong to the taxi owners collaborating with the government through the licensing or the government directly who would be hiring the drivers to take charge of operation of the vehicle. In any case, for the sale of car charger to this segment, the government purchase managers would have to be connected. For any government customer sales, a tendering process has to be followed. Thus, the company would be looking out for any tenders that come up with the requirement of purchase of the electric car chargers for cars and in response, the tenders would be prepared and submitted to the government official. Sales people would also be utilized to build relationships with the purchase and bid managers of the governmental organizations to know the dynamics and needs of the market such that chances of passing a tender can be increased (UK Government, 2010).
For sustainability of the business model, the company should be able to make sales that are able to achieve the break even in the first one year of the service and thereafter make decent profits. This would be achieved by doing an extensive marketing in the initial years to gain more customers in all the segments and later on the provision of excellent customer service would be adopted as an approach to remain the existing customer as well as spread the good word of mouth to get more customers.
The marketing strategies that can be used by the organization for attracting more customers towards the product would include:
• Use of fliers and pamphlets that would be distributed to the individual through dealers in the car market for which the dealers would be connected through sales staff who would be explaining the benefits and the potential sales increase that dealers would receive if the car charted is promoted and sold to its customers. A good relationship with dealers would be one of the core marketing strategy of the company selling car chargers in the dealer market (Chernova, 2016).
• To tap the UK car owners in the sales, the company would be creating a pamphlet and the same would be distributed to the newspaper vendors so that the same would reach more and more households. As the electric car vehicles can range from lower income level segment to the higher income owners of the cars, both consumers have to be targeted. The distribution of the pamphlets would help target the middle-class segment that would own small hybrid electric cars while newspaper advertisements can be used for the marketing of the product to the upper and high-class consumers of the electric car vehicles.
• To target consumers locally, the company would be placing video advertisement on the local channels that would allow the company to reach both the individual car owners and the dealers
• The company would also use marketing on the public vehicles which would help them build relationships with public vehicle owners and public organizations indirectly and would present an opportunity to reach out to more car owners on the road through the advertisement.
• For marketing the product to the public limited or government companies, the company can come up with some schemes for the sale of chargers in bulk for discounted rates and the same would be communicated by the sales people and the marketing team of the organization through direct meetings, trade shows, and exhibitions.
• Trade exhibitions that include automotive parts and vehicles displays can be used as a marketing platform where the representatives of the company can be sent to promote the car charger through display on a counter. This would allow them to talk to the interested customers including dealers and car manufacturer bring them the opportunity to make direct sales, generate leads to connect later or build relationships for extracting indirect opportunities through their connects (Ehmke and Akridge, 2014).
• The advertisement would also be placed in trade magazine like auto magazine, Auto marts magazine that reach the consumers and dealers directly. This would bring the product to consumers and any offers related to the launch can then be communicated using this mode of promotion.
• With the digitization of most markets and the whole economy, the company also needs to find its space in the digital space and thus, social media and mobile digital marketing would be used to reach out to more consumers.
Every media channel would be allotted specific budget out of the total budget approved for the marketing plan. The highest marketing budget would be allotted to the newspaper advertising and television media with 25% and 20% of the allocation. The budget allocation for the other modes of promotion are given in Table (1).
The marketing of the product would be done using the posting of the benefits that the car owners are likely to achieve with the use of this charger. This includes that benefit of the ability of the product to supply power to the mains and recharge the vehicle in less duration without extracting much of the power from the mains. Which would save the car owner on the costs that are otherwise incurred in spending on electricity for charging the cars. The only expenses in using analectic car is the electricity which is heavily utilized by the car charges that are already existing in the market However, the USP of the existing product that the company is building prototype of is that the charger is not taking much power and able to charge vehicle with 50% less electricity utilization as compared to the other chargers in the market. As this is the key benefit for the individual users, they would be a target with a positioning of saving on the electricity and the ability to supply power to mains would be used as an add-on benefit in the marketing messages.
The marketing to the dealers would be done on the basis of the figures of sales that they can achieve with the sale of that car charger to individuals that is capable of providing cost saving and thus, would attract more and more customers. For marketing the product to the public limited companies and governmental organization, the pricing would be the target, and the company would be doing the negotiations with them to supply the wholesale product at most cost effective rates (Pasley, 2012).
However, the complete product would also require a cable that would be used for charging the vehicle by connected it to the advanced charger and the internal microcomputer for controlling the inputs from the control panel that would be connected through the internet. The internet connected circuit board will help the users of the are charger to know when the vehicle is charged as well as control if any other activities have to be done such as switching the mode of the charger from chagrin to supplying to mains in case of power shortage, powering off the charging from remote location.
This project would involve the development of the design, development of the prototype, marketing of the product and the launch of the same. The company has four months to carry out the entire development and launch of the product. The product would be developed in the first month of the product such that the prototype so developed at the end of the fists month. Thereafter, the prototype would be tested to check if the product is working fine, this testing would be done on various models of the vehicles including Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and Renault Zoe to ensure that it works fine for all types of electric cars. After the prototypes are successfully tested by the developers, it would be launched in the market in the next month. At the end of the second month, the vehicle car charger would go to the specific dealer of specific car models. The marketing of the car charger would begin in the first month itself after the 15th day of starting of the project, and it would go on for two months.
The marketing to the dealers would be done in the second month extensively while marketing to the government would begin in the third month. In the fourth month of the operations, the company would be marketing the product to the individual car owners. With this approach in mind, a schedule is prepared below using the Gantt chart beginning with the development of the product, testing of the prototype, launch of the product and marketing of the same to different segments. This would also include the registration of the patents after successful designing which would be done in the first month of the project.
The ethical considerations are mainly involved for the societal benefits such that the development innovation should not in any way affect any person or the organization in a negative manner. The company would maintain the codes of ethics and would not cheat the customers and car owners. The fair pricing with margin choice as per the trend in the market would be used for that. Although, the company has the patent and is free to keep as much charge as it wants but the pricing decision would be taken only as per the prevalent market rate such that the customers do not feel cheated in any manner (Evans & Padilla, 2004).
The company would also offer a replacement warranty of 1 year and guarantee of 3 years such that any defective product can be replaced in the first year or can be repaired thereafter. Further, the company would be taking efforts in minimizing the air pollution in the form of emanation of chemicals like asbestos during manufacturing and during its use at the time of charging so as to minimize the emissions from the product not to harm the society.
Intellectual property protection
The company needs to protect its innovation such that competition does not start producing a similar product and sell the same at a lower price to take away the market, patenting of the electrical car charger can be used as an appropriate strategy to protect the intellectual rights of the organization. Through the patenting of the product, the company would reserve the rights to make, sell and use the invention for a specific period of the time in which it would enjoy the freedom on pricing as well as enjoy the whole market share. Patents that area available to be taken by the organization can include utility, design and plant patents (WIPO, 2012). In this case, the company would adopt for the patent for utility and design as the plant cannot be patented as it is already used by other existing organizations selling the battery car charger for electric vehicles. Moreover, the design patent would include designing for the car charger, and it will last for 20 years. The patent of utility would mean that any process, machine, composition of the charger and new improvements could not be done by other organizations that are in competition. This type of patent would last for 14 years and would help the company sustain in the business with high profitability for those many years. This type of patent would be done considering the entire product that include specifics like capability of charging at night with lowest consumption of electricity, the ability of the charger to supply to mains in case of short of power supply and the internal manufactured materials that are being used in the car charger that include the microcircuit, and discharge circuit boards that are the key component that are differentiating the product from its competitors (Ehmke and Akridge, 2014).
The receipt of the patent would involve a process of registration with the authorities by submission of the design and the utility details to the authority an application for the patent for the same which would take two months to receive. Once the patent is received, the product can be safely launched and communicated to the market. This is an important step to take before that communication reaches the competition and any delays can cause the competitors to create replicas and use the same to make sales in the market.
This report was aimed at exploring how an electric car battery charger as a technological innovation can be launched in the market. It described key activities that are required for the launch that includes understanding of the target market and segmentation of the same, analysis of the needs of the target customers, sustainability aspects, ethical, social considerations, scheduling activities, and intellectual property protection. It was found that the market for the product was majorly segmented as per the type of customers, and it included individual car owners, commercial car dealers and the public organizations owning public vehicles. Further, some of the key customer needs were identified for each segment that included the ability to charge a full vehicle in the night for individuals, ability to extract electricity from the charger in case of absence of electricity. Also, the intellectual property rights and be secured by the organization by patenting of the technology such that competition cannot replicate the same without paying royalties which would give the company opportunity to earn more
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