Automakers are still not advertising their electric vehicles, study shows
Sep. 3rd 2018 Fred Lambert
To date, the best ad I’ve seen for electric vehicles has been a Dodge
Challenger Demon ad (pictured above) because they had to include fine-prints
saying that their “best” performance claims excluded electric cars.
That’s partly because automakers are still simply not advertising their
electric vehicles as shown by a new study.
The Sierra Club and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management
(NESCAUM) have an interesting annual study of advertising instances and
spending for electric vehicles by automakers.
The last one showed that they are pushing to sell EVs significantly less
than gas-guzzling cars, and are not spending a lot of money to try to
educate the public about electric propulsion.
It’s an issue because the lack of awareness is surprisingly still the
biggest problem for electric vehicle adoption, as surveys have shown.
In a new update to the study released last week, it shows that the
automakers that they tracked (General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Nissan,
Volkswagen, and Fiat Chrysler) are still not spending much to advertise
their electric vehicles – despite trending a little higher in some
“The report, which looks at 2017 automotive ad spending, shows that in
California and Northeast markets as well as in nationwide ads, FiatChrysler
didn’t advertise the electric Fiat 500e at all, and Volkswagen didn’t
advertise the eGolf at all either. When examining data from California and
the Northeast, Nissan, Toyota, and Ford also spent NOTHING on ads for the
plug-in Leaf, Prius Prime, Fusion, and C-Max Energi, respectively.”
Here’s a comparison of Nissan’s ad spending on the Leaf versus the Rogue in
When looking at plug-in hybrids, we are seeing similar situations for Ford
and Toyota with their respective vehicles:
One silver lining is GM with the Chevy Bolt EV. We are still not talking
about incredible ad money in total spending like they spend on their trucks,
but it is nonetheless starting to add up to a decent amount in CARB states
“Chevy, which appears to have spent more than any other company on EV
advertising, spent roughly $16 million in total advertising for the Bolt,
looking nationwide and specifically in California and the Northeast — the
markets where the “zero-emission vehicle mandate” is in place that requires
automakers to sell increasing numbers of EVs.”
That’s actually a lot of money per car when you consider that GM only
delivered about 23,000 Bolt EVs in the US last year.
That adds up to about $700 in advertising per car for the Bolt EV. In
comparison, GM delivered over half a million Silverado trucks in the US last
year, which results in just over $200 in advertising spending per truck.
To be fair, that’s partly because they don’t have to advertise since most
good EV out there is production constrained.
But then you have to ask yourself ‘are they production constrained because
there’s a ton of demand or because they are keeping the production way too
low?’ The latter is too often true, unfortunately.
You also have to look at Tesla, the biggest electric automaker in the US,
and they don’t spend any money on traditional advertising.
It’s certainly a weird space of its own right now that the industry is still
trying to figure out.
I think it’s going to improve soon as more EVs enter the market and it
becomes a more competitive space. Also, efforts like VW’s Electrify America
launching a national advertising campaign to promote EVs could also
potentially make a difference ...
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