New Data Supports The Obvious – Automakers Neglect To Advertise Electric Cars


BMW should get an award, as the company spent a "whopping" $19 million on national marketing for the i3

BMW should get an award, as the company spent a “whopping” $19 million on national advertising for the i3

The Sierra Club analyzed CompetiTrack and Motor Intelligence data shared by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), pertaining to automotive advertising markers. Not surprisingly, automakers are spending much less, if anything at all, on marketing electric cars, thus advertising is minimal or non-existent.

Ford spent a grand total of $0 marketing and advertising the Fusion Energi nationally

Ford spent a grand total of $0 marketing and advertising the Fusion Energi nationally

Let’s take a look at some of the 2015 data for cable and broadcast TV for nationwide audiences:

  • The Ford Focus boasted 4,750 ads  – The Ford Focus Electric was at about 200
  • The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was advertised 1,400 times – The Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV saw zero
  • The Chevrolet Cruze enjoyed 700 spots – The Chevrolet Volt only had 200
  • The Nissan Sentra saw 3,500 ads – The Nissan LEAF fared better than most, at 1,750

In ads specifically for a California-based audience, due to CARB and ZEV credits, numbers were better. But, somewhat peculiar is that in Northeast ZEV states, statistics weren’t as promising. The Chevrolet Volt was advertised 800 times in California, but only 10 times in Northeast ZEV states. The Volkswagen e-Golf was the exception, with twice as many ads in the Northeast ZEV states, than in California. However, the ad numbers were nothing close to the 2,200 national ads for the ICE VW Golf.

Sell it like you mean it: Kia Soul EV ad pot featuring a robotic dog

Sell it like you mean it: Kia Soul EV ad pot featuring a robotic dog

Automakers and dealerships are quick to state that they are doing everything in their power to sell electric cars, blaming low sales volume on lack of consumer interest. While consumer interest is admittedly lower than that of ICE cars, the Sierra Club proved through another recent study, that automakers and dealerships “doing everything in their power,” is markedly false. It involved sending volunteers to dealerships to inquire about electric cars. The “mystery shoppers” found little support.

Sierra Club points out that for the BMW i3, Ford Fusion Energi, Chevrolet Volt, and Nissan LEAF, almost nothing was spent on advertising for the Northeast ZEV states. Furthermore, Ford spent a grand total of $0 marketing and advertising the Fusion Energi nationally. BMW should get an award, as the company spent a “whopping” $19 million on national marketing for the i3. Remember, we are talking about automakers that spend billions on marketing and advertising.

Visit the link below to see charts breaking down advertising figures in greater detail.

Source: Sierra Club

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40 Comments on "New Data Supports The Obvious – Automakers Neglect To Advertise Electric Cars"

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Hey, it’s simple : if the mainstream automakers don’t want to produce and sell us the cars we want,… we will not buy our cars from the mainstream automakers. Go ahead, shoot yourselves in the foot. There are alternatives now.

BMW..could spend a Billion$$$$ advertising the i3 and it would not do any Good . If they do like Musk Does they’d save lots of advertising Money, Lower Their Price & ask a fair price for that overpriced Plastic Toy.

more crazy conspiracy theorizing that we have all come to expect from EV enthusiasts…

to take the chevrolet advertising numbers cited in this article, chevrolet sells 10 times more chevrolet cruz cars than they do chevrolet volt cars. that the cruz is only advertised 3.5 times more often than the volt suggests that the volt is getting more advertising than the is justified by actual sales.

that the volt was advertised more in california than it was nationally tells you that GM understands where the market is and that they make their advertising decisions accordingly. if the crazy conspiracy theories had any merit, then GM wouldn’t be advertising the volt even in california.

Why is it so hard to appreciate manufacturers don’t want to sell cars with lower profit margins? True, is going into a dealership and experiencing exactly what Sierra Club is talking about. It’s not hard to do.

These numbers say GM runs more ads per Volt than per Cruze. How is that under-promoting?

The Leaf is also well-promoted. The others are mostly compliance cars. If you don’t sell nation-wide it makes no sense to advertise nationwide.

I read this as I see a KIA Soul EV ad on TV during the Packers game (local insert, obviously). And not the robotic dog one above.

I haven’t seen an e-Golf specific ad in about a year, but we had them for a while.

I can’t speak of how it is in other places but in my area, where EVs sell, we have some EV ads. Wonder which is cause and which is effect?

I have to agree with no comment & Doggydogworld.

For EVs there seems to be a (very rough) equivalence between anticipated market and level of advertising.
What on earth is wrong with that??

I’m as much an EV enthusiast as anyone but this constant harping on manufacturers unwilling to sell us what we want misses the point.
The transition to clean transportation can not happen overnight. There is too much long built-up momentum in the ICE industry, and too little immediately available production capacity for EV technologies (think battery).
The transition will be slow, and it will be painful for some.
We need to get over it and enjoy what we can while we can.

Hint – Save your shekels and buy a Tesla.

Look no further than Ford, GM, and Dodge trucks, these are the volume production profit centers of what used to be the Big Three. If these ICE dealers, sell EVs in numbers approaching any where near truck sales, their Service Departments will wither away to become loss generators. This will force consolidation in The Dealer/Stealership business model.

William got it…
ICE cars can generate revenue where EV will NOT…
THIS IS THE POINT but if we will become BIG it will force all manufactures to create EV with much less money to own… BTW I think we should rent batteris not BUY it should brind cost of EV car below ICE… we will save money with the rental

Battery rental has not been widely embraced in Europe. Maybe it would be a better option here in the states, with car sharing starting to take hold in the near future. Hard to say what the uptake would be, without some side by side competition in this non existent battery rental segment. Saving money on cost of Lease or ownership, with battery rental, has to be demonstrated first by some OEM ICE manufacturer. I can’t see Tesla jumping into the battery rental business model before the other OEMs, (Renault/Nissan) who still fear to tread in this segment, here in the States.

Auto manufacturers focus their advertising on products with the highest margins, this isn’t unlike many of industries.

Personally I think “big auto” knows about the transition to EVs coming but they’d like it to take as long as possible because EVs aren’t as profitable right now.

I also believe big auto is underestimating the speed at which the transition will happen and it might bite them in the backside.

Then there is Tesla… with near zero advertising dollars spent and good sales results.

Why advertise? That seems to be the old way.

There was 2016 FFE ad video while watching youtube. Bolt advertising banner is present in almost all of my web browsing. I have yet to see any ad for Tesla.

I saw a lot of i3 ads during the Olympics, but I think only then.

Imagine our lack of surprise. No, even less than that.

But, to be fair, and as has already been pointed out, if PEVs (Plug-in EVs) don’t earn the auto makers as much average profit as their gasmobiles, then we really can’t expect them to advertise PEVs as heavily. So as an EV advocate I don’t like it, but it’s understandable.

Is there any indication that auto advertising works? We just had a pretty good demonstration that political advertising doesn’t work. Hillary out spent Trump by 20 to 1, the net result, she’s taking long walks in the woods while he’s appointing cabinet secretaries.

Auto advertising is mostly awful, pop quiz name one memorable auto ad from the last ten years. I can’t name one, can anyone else?

One more point, a car salesman as more incentive to sell an EV then they do selling an ICE car because they are more expensive. A Chevy Volt is stickered at $39K, a Chevy Cruze is stickered at $23K so the commission on a Volt is much greater than it is on a Cruze. Tax incentives bring the Volt down to $29K which makes the sale easier then it would be for an ICE car priced at $39K so that also increases the salesman’s incentive to sell the Volt instead of a Cruze.

“We just had a pretty good demonstration that political advertising doesn’t work. Hillary out spent Trump by 20 to 1, the net result, she’s taking long walks in the woods while he’s appointing cabinet secretaries.” No, we just had a pretty good demonstration of how very poor analyses can be. In this case, ignoring the fact that Donald Trump was usually seen and heard in the lead “story” of every TV news show in the months — not just weeks, but months — leading up to the election. (I’m not exaggerating. I watch CBS Nightly News and the PBS News Hour almost every night. When I say Donald Trump was the lead most nights, as in well over 50% of the time, I’m not exaggerating.) I’ve read of a concept called “saturation level” advertising. That is, the concept that when people see ads for a certain product too often, they just mentally shut them out, ignore them, so no further level of advertising helps sell the product. Arguably, Trump achieved that level of saturation advertising without ever having to spend a dime. The real story there isn’t that Trump won without having to spend all that much on paid advertising.… Read more »
advertising *does* work, but you need to understand that the objective of advertising is to create awareness and to position a car in your mind so that you will want to go out to a dealership and investigate it further. there are a lot of cars out there, so advertising is used to make you aware of some particular car among the crowd. on the other hand, you can’t rely on advertising to make people buy something that they don’t want to buy. as to the incentives that car dealers have: car dealers like to sell what they know and avoid trying to sell what they don’t know. when dealers try to sell what they don’t know, they can come across as being uninformed and that can kill a sale. car selling is a confidence game at its basic level, so the dealer needs to build trust in the sucker (i mean, “customer”); to do that, he needs to come across as being knowledgeable about the product that he is peddling (i mean, selling). if a car dealer is making money sell familiar car models, it is difficult to get him to invest time to learn about new, less familiar… Read more »

So major automakers don’t advertise EVs and they are bad. Tesla doesn’t advertise and they are geniuses!!

Biased much? 😉

Bias? We’re just pointing out that people, especially car guys like us, actually do want electric vehicles. It gets easier and easier to see. The more you know about how to fix cars, buy electricity or have less consequence upon the environment. The advertising bias is in preservation of none of these things. I want to:
-fix and maintain a car less
-pay less for its fuel
-have less impact on the environment
(…and under a Christmas tree I’d sure want quieter, faster responding and more powerful, too.)

Most aren’t that removed from how business works, not to understand why the better way to go is the last thing manufacturers would wish to acknowledge. So, we brow beat them.

DJ asked:

“Biased much?”

Yeah, most people posting comments to InsideEVs are “biased” in favor of the one company that is doing more than all other companies put together, to advance the EV revolution. Or at least, all the other companies outside China.

Most people; as in, those of us who really are interested in seeing the EV revolution progress and succeed.

But why are you posting here, dude? I think you’d feel far more at home among the Tesla bashers on Seeking Alpha.

Clearly there is bias. Don’t lie to yourself and say there isn’t. Why isn’t Tesla listed as one of the car companies who “neglect” to advertise their EVs?

I actually just saw a Bolt advertisement on a billboard. Let me know when Tesla stops “neglecting” to advertise their cars.

Is seeking alpha where all the non Tesla cult members go and speak the truth? May have to check it out.

I also don’t understand why a car company would advertise nationally if their cars aren’t available nationwide. Seems to me to be a waste of $ when they could advertise in fewer markets more for the same amount.

You sure seem to have a bug up your derriere when it comes to Tesla and its fans! Tesla currently doesn’t need traditional advertising for its cars, as they have a tremendous backlog they’re going to have to fulfill first! They don’t need to add to that backlog!

You seem to lack any sort of intelligence any time it comes to someone stating facts that don’t paint Tesla as the worlds best company.

What exactly did I say? That this article has a bias towards non Tesla EV manufacturers who actually do advertise their products?

Seriously, I don’t care if you like what I have to say or not. It is an accurate statement. Don’t like it? Call Elon and tell him to advertise…

What back log is this that you speak of anyways? A car for which no final production version has actually been seen?? Oh that “vaporware compliance car” to summariZe other various posters here as the car isn’t available in their state for sale, or even for sale at all…

Why is it that you guys lose any and all sense of reality any time anything is said about Tesla that isn’t glowingly positive yet you totally bash other automakers for coming out with their offerings? Oh ya, I forgot the whole cult thing…

You can buy a Tesla on the spot right now. They have new models in stock.

There is also something called, “Generating Global Demand” for a limited quantity of product. Nintendo did it beautifully, with their Classic retro game system. Very few units are actually available, yet everyone wants one. Prices went from $60 to over several hundred. Imagine if GM mainstream advertised their little Bolt and created some compelling mindshare for it? Gosh, they’d have to make so many more than their accountants and battery supplier planned for… Oh, boo hoo.

If you aren’t interested in anything other than token CARB Credits or Green PR, you don’t need to advertise and make less money on EVs. The prime motivation of selling more profitable ICE vehicles becomes a self-perpetuating, almost unbreakable cycle. Electrification is a mere sideline to the main fiscal goal of selling more smoke belching ‘real cars’– just like great Grandpa did.

This is why the legacy auto industry NEEDED fresh outsiders, pushing sustainable transport, shaking up the status quo. They were never going to willingly transition seamlessly, without a push from behind.

In what respect is Tesla “doing more to advance the EV revolution” than Nissan-Renault… or even just the Nissan division of that company? Are actual sales less important than fawning media coverage?

Your claim is like saying that Apple is doing more to advance the smartphone revolution than Google, even though Android smartphones outnumber iPhones over 4-to-1.

I have a droid but Apple did do more to push the smartphone revolution.

I have a Nissan and a Tesla and Tesla has done way more to advance the EV revolution.

You could sell 10 Nissan Leafs and it doesn’t generate the buzz that 1 Model S does. And since the Model S is outselling the Leaf, there is no comparison. You might still be able to cherry pick something where Leaf sales are higher (like total overall worldwide?) but that is just a side effect of earlier availability with a global network. As of today, I’m not sure that total overall worldwide would still tip in the Leaf’s favor – but if it did, there would be less than 30 days left where that was true.

As Tesla does not spend anything on ICE (which they don’t make) but around 6$ (so I heard) on marketing for their EVs per vehicle, the ratio of money EV:ICE at Tesla is infinite (mathematically speaking)

I agree. It’s crazy.

This is all a tempest in a teacup really.

TV ads really aren’t where it’s at when you’re trying to reach a specific part of the market.

To convert a large part o the market to EVs is going to take both advertising and product. As long as most automakers only have 90 mile EVs to offer their money isn’t well spent on TV ad blitzes trying to get people to come in and buy 1/3rd of the car they think they need.

It’s going to take real outreach and education, and you don’t do that with mass TV ad buys.

Well honestly . . . why would they? They make much more money on ICE cars. At this point, the plug-in cars are largely money-losers.

They know they need to have the EVs because of CARB, European rules, in case the battery prices drop suddenly, and in case gas prices shoot up.

But until battery prices drop steeply or gas prices rise steeply, don’t expect them to push EVs since they make more money on ICE cars.

so, you have never driven an i3, right? it is actually one of the best driving experiences. there are some owners who have an i3 and a tesla, but only use the i3 for their daily commute in town. the cabin is spacious, the materials (especially when you get that wooden thing in the front) are nice, build quality is fine, you have a good view to all sides of the car, you can sit comfortably and dont have to fold yourself to fit in the rearseats, steering it feels like you are on rails and the turn radius is amazingly small. aluminium and carbon reinforced plastic, easy repairable outer shell which will never get dents. you get quite a lot for the money compared to others. of course you can not put a 30000$ battery in a 40000$ car…

The materials are not nice. And I am not a fan of the driving experience. The suspension is awful. It porpoises over bumps.

The turning radius is nice, I don’t recall the steering being amazing.

I wouldn’t put up with the looks just to get plastic body panels and that cheap-looking instrument cluster.

What other car is your benchmark, when you say these things? I have driven like 10 different i3s, many other cars (electric and ice) to date and i cannot confirm this.

The materials, steering, 19″ wheels, its driving experience, clean cosy interior is praised by most of test magazines etc. as well. its idrive system might be the best on the market, as its simple layout makes it easy to use while driving without being distracted.

yes the suspension is different to other cars, which comes by its dimensions, its a city car, its not as stiff like on an 3series and the i3 tends to hop a little when you hit some potholes. It is set to understeer just a little, but all together it is quick, direct, predictible, easy to manage, comfortable and still sporty enough.

I do not know any other electric car in that price range which is as nice to drive in general as the i3.

Why would you advertise a product you are selling at a loss?

Until the negative effects of burning fossil fuels slap humans in the face 365 days a year, ICE manufacturers will not advertise EVs in a serious manner. In other words, Beijing’s toxic air quality has to be worldwide.

This is true. But because of air quality concerns, USA has got rid of Diesel and Europeans will do it soon.

No wonder Chinese are rapidly expanding their Electric vehicle base.

Automakers don’t advertise electric vehicles.
Automakers don’t sell electric vehicles in all states.
Automakers don’t supply enough electric vehicles to dealers.
Dealers don’t sell them with real interest.

Despite all this roadblocks, electric vehicles are progressing phenomenally.

EVs have only 1% market share nothing to get excited about and very pitiful to be honest. 20% market share would be phenomenal.