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A 2024 Super Bowl car commercial ran OEMs $6.5-$7 million for a 30-second slot. Ford, GM, and Stellantis all sat out this year, citing either the expense or a general lack of interest in this marketing channel. Four automakers bought time: BMW, Kia, Toyota, and Volkswagen. They all approached their slots differently, and none actually displayed how their product solves the issues Americans face regarding their cars today. Mainly, new cars are no longer affordable for most folks, and EVs are both too expensive and too risky to fully adopt yet.

A silver 2024 BMW i5 EV sedan featured in a 2024 Super Bowl car commercial shown in full profile view with a white backdrop and palm trees peeking from top of backdrop
2024 BMW i5 EV sedan | BMW

BMW went above and beyond to unveil the new all-electric 5 series, the i5. Christopher Walken starred in the 60-second spot while his fans tried to imitate his voice. Usher makes an appearance at the end. After telling a valet that the car was 100% electric, that’s about it for the i5. The rest is spent following Walken. Charming, sure. Audiences may have been interested to know that the 2024 eDrive40 starts at $66,800. This is less than the 2024 Tesla Model S. It’s not on the eligibility list for EV tax credits for 2024, though.

The 2024 Kia EV9 is an award-winning six- or seven-passenger SUV that starts at $54,900. It’s a ruggedly capable and spacious vehicle. While showing off how well the EV9 does off-road in the snow, Kia was fairly tone-deaf to most Americans in their Super Bowl slot. The ad is getting labeled as heartfelt – even tear-jerking. But I can’t imagine the audience relating to a young, successful figure skater whose family escapes to an Aspen-esque mountainside chalet with a string-lighted ice rink in the front yard. This just isn’t the experience most folks have with their kids’ extracurricular sports, let alone caring for an elderly family member.

Toyota spent its ad money having actors tear around the desert in a new Tacoma. It stayed lightheartedly humorous. The ad spotlights the standard interior handle above most car door frames. In the commercial, different passengers cling to the handle while the driver rips donuts or guns it across the rough terrain. The sore-afflicted passengers scold or yell out about their discomfort. The relationship dynamics are indeed relatable. The handle seems trite to focus on for an entire Super Bowl commercial and follow-up campaign. There’s much more than that to love about the 2024 Tacoma, including its starting price of $31,500.

Volkswagen was probably the most inclusive to American drivers. Their slot was a “love song” to how Americans have integrated the brand into their lives and the culture over the last 75 years. It ends with a new electric ID.4 SUV and ID.Buzz van lighting up and catching eyeballs driving. The 2023 ID.4 Standard starts at $38,995. Sales of the ID.4 actually grew drastically in 2023 over 2022.

The Super Bowl is, of course, the epitome of American commercialization. I suppose we can expect Super Bowl 2024 car commercials to travel in the same lane. Perhaps my familiarity with the automotive industry and its current challenges with EV adoption and general affordability prevented my viewing lens from becoming rose-colored.