Automakers love to take automotive journalists somewhere exotic for the official launch of a new car, usually somewhere hot and sunny.
So when Mazda announced its European launch of the 2013 CX-5 compact crossover SUV would take place in the rugged, rural landscape of Highland Scotland, we assumed it was to highlight its go-anywhere aspirations.
But as TheChargingPoint.com noted yesterday, the rural location enabled Mazda to do something else: make fun of electric cars.
Fake road signs
“Fake road signs were planted on surrounding verges cautioning motorists about ‘EV drivers hitchhiking’”, wrote TheChargingPoint. “Another sign jibed that the ‘next charging point was 225 miles away’”, it continued.
Thanks to its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder SkyActiv engine the 2013 Mazda CX-5 2WD with six-speed automatic gearbox can manage 26 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined, giving it one of the better gas mileages in the compact crossover segment.
But rather than turn its attention to beating competition from cars like the 2013 Ford Escape and 2013 Honda CR-V, Mazda seems to have taken the easy route, taking a pot-shot at electric cars.
Cars, which we hasten to add, do not compete in any way with the CX-5’s crossover SUV segment.
The only explanation for this schoolyard prank?
We suspect someone at Mazda thought it would be a fun, inside-baseball joke for its guests; dealers and automotive journalists who have yet to be convinced that electric cars have a future.
Regardless of its humorous intent, we presume that the signs -- visible on public roads -- may have been seen by members of the public who were less aware of Mazda's in-joke.
A seedy underside...
Sadly for Mazda, while its jokes about range anxiety probably won it some chuckles from electric-car cynics, its latest attempt to publicize the 2013 Mazda CX-5 does nothing to the company reputation.
Earlier this year, Mazda came under severe criticism from parental groups across the U.S. when it was reported that it had marketed its crossover SUV to junior school children as part of a movie deal with Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.
Its decision to make fun of a car that doesn’t even compete with the CX-5 is, at best, poor judgement. At worst, it makes the company seem like a 5th grade bully.
...or really scared?
But as most parents will tell their kids, bullies pick on kids because they are either jealous, or secretly fear the victim is smarter or better than they are.
In this case, we can’t help but wonder if Mazda, without an electric car to its name, is starting to feel a little left out in a world where most of its competitors are designing and building electric cars.
Why do you think Mazda decided to pick on electric cars? Should it have? And has it damaged Mazda’s reputation?
Let us known your thoughts in the Comments below.