Add another one to General Motors’s strange marketing ploys. In ads for the new Chevy Volt running online, the U.S. automaker traps people in an elevator to simulate the dread of being stranded on the side of the road when the battery in your electric vehicle dies. That’s a pretty harsh burn coming from GM on the EV front. Considering the General is selling the Chevy Spark EV and will soon sell the Bolt EV, it’s tough to see why it would disparage a segment in which it has a clear stake.
The ad titled “Elevator” takes a few minutes to make its questionable point. For the first minute, we see the guinea pigs in the commercial sent into elevators to get stuck. Finally, they are released into a room with the 2016 Volt and 2015 Nissan Leaf, the best-selling EV in history. Everyone gets a selective rundown of each car’s specs before each the “real people” predictably agree what an awesome car the new Volt is. You can see the magic happen here:
If Chevy thinks the Leaf’s 84 miles is a huge problem, we wonder what it tells consumers who are curious about the Spark EV, rated by the EPA at 82 miles of range. The automaker’s press releases about the mini EV certainly do not trash the car for its limited range. In fact, we hear about the “fun driving” and “easy ownership” but don’t have that elevator scenario presented.
Actually, it wasn’t long ago that we got this from a GM press release for the Chevy Bolt EV: “Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance in all 50 states and many global markets.” At least then, the Spark EV was a symbol of pride. All that was before the 2016 Nissan Leaf got a model capable of 107 miles, too.
Sometime in fall 2015, the new Nissan Leaf will debut with 107 miles of range to continue pushing the segment forward. Outside of a Tesla — or any car below $70,000 — the 2016 Leaf will be the EV with the longest range on the U.S. market. After that, consumers will have to wait for the Chevy Bolt EV, expected to begin production late in 2016.
Among the world’s automakers, GM is the only one to introduce a long-range electric vehicle concept to date. The General doubled down in the green car department later in the year when it released the second generation of the Chevy Volt, bumping the plug-in hybrid’s range to 50 miles before the gas engine kicks in. A hybrid model for the Malibu midsize sedan also appeared in production form this year.
All three of these cars were greeted enthusiastically by everyone looking for more efficient products from the largest automaker in the U.S. In fact, GM appeared to be a pioneer in the electric vehicle segment, something no one would have predicted just last year.
So we count ourselves among the perplexed when looking at these attack ads for the Nissan Leaf and other models with limited range like the Chevy Spark EV. Did someone in marketing lose the memo about not bashing electric cars?
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