Automakers have had it tough over the past few years. An economic downturn, consumers looking for ever-fuel efficient vehicles and everyone clambering to make it to marketplace first. But just what do automakers need to keep in mind when advertising their first electric vehicle. We assume that any publicity is good, but here are ten facts we think any automaker should bear in mind to ensure customers buy their electric car.
- Long-distance EV trips only emphasise the need for recharging
Long-distance EV trips are never as simple as they seem. While the concept of driving a long distance on some monumental road trip may get publicity it only serves to illustrate the Achilles heel of the EV - the need for regular recharging. Plan badly, and the ubiquitous image of an EV charging up from a portable gasoline powered generator will surely happen, as Mitsubishi recently found out travelling across Canada in a 2011 i-Miev.
- First-of-a-kind may not always be first-of-a-kind
- Patronising Customers Is Not A Great Idea
Educating customers is a really important part of any EV ad campaign. But patronising them only frustrates. It’s okay for a company to assume its customers need educating about it’s latest product, but treating all potential customers as children won’t curry favour among those who do know about electric cars.
- Hiding The True MSRP Behind A Wall Of Tax Credits Doesn’t Work
With government incentives a-plenty, the prices of electric cars can appear to be much less than the actual purchase price. In the U.S., state tax credits are applied the year after purchase unless the customer opts to lease the car. For outright purchases, the customer has to stump up the full MSRP at point of sale. Nothing puts off consumers than finding out the price they were quoted is after rebates that don’t appear for a year.
- A Good Product Speaks For Itself
Simple, succinct advertising campaigns are often more effective than clever, quirky or high-brow ones. Companies which sell their EV in the most simple and honest way may find more customer interest than those which do not. As Apple have clearly illustrated in the past, consumers want capabilities and features, not jargon.
2011 Chevrolet Volt dance, Los Angeles Auto Show, December 2009
- Gimmicks, Dances And Songs Are So Last Century
Remember the Volt Dance? A result of a large budget creative push, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt launched with what must be the most uninspired dance in the whole of advertising history. While Chevrolet certainly got publicity it hardly did much to improve the public’s impression of it’s first extended range electric car.
- Press Releases Need To Contain Something New
Some electric car companies seem more interested in offering press releases at every point in a car’s journey to production than they are at actually bringing a car to market.
Companies that constantly offer press release after press release, but have very little to offer for it tend to loose credibility among the media, and loose fans quickly.
- It’s Better To Underestimate Than Overestimate
Companies which underestimate an electric car’s range or initially give a highly conservative price before dropping it when the car goes on sale are more likely to get custom than those which exaggerate performance, range and provide an unrealistic early price quote.
- Blaming Compromises On The Fuel Doesn’t Work
We’ve had so many press releases and interviews in the past few years with car companies which utter the terrible words “Well, it IS an electric car”.
While enthusiasts may be happy making compromises on low-end electric vehicles most consumers want AC, a decent stereo and quality trim. Since most EVs are offered at premium prices, it is expected that such a price pays for at least moderate quality
Elon Musk on The Colbert Report
- Mud-slinging Doesn’t Impress The Customer
We’ve seen mud-slinging from Elon Musk at Tesla as well as other EV companies in recent years. A little bit of competitive talk between companies is acceptable, but openly dismissing the competition in such a nasty way only damages the company making the attack.
The best publicity for any EV is a solid product, backed up by great service and support. We think automakers need to spend less time trying to be different and more time producing a great product.