During this year’s Super Bowl, at least three car companies – GM, Porsche, and Audi – ran commercials for plug-in cars. This is a sign that automakers are ramping up their efforts to persuade the public that electric cars really are the future.
The auto industry is investing billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles, spurred by stricter emissions rules in places like California and concerns about climate change. In fact, more than 100 new plug-in models are expected to become available in the United States over the next five years.
In Europe, electric cars are increasingly popular. Norwegians, for example, buy more electric cars than gas cars. And several European countries have banned the sale of gas cars starting in 2025.
But in the US, enthusiasm for electric cars has been slow to build. Automakers sold fewer than 330,00 electric vehicles in the US in 2019 and more than half of those were from Tesla, which actually does not even advertise its vehicles.
The auto industry spent nearly $9 billion in national and local advertising in the US last year, but less than half a percent of that went toward promoting electric vehicles.
A big part of the problem is that car dealers are not very enthusiastic about selling electric cars, which require far less maintenance than conventional cars and have far fewer costly replacement parts to sell. As a result, the industry’s efforts to speed the transition to electric cars has been ambivalent at best.
World-wide, Tesla has sold about a million cars, mostly in the past 4 years, so there is clearly a growing demand for electric vehicles. It is up to the rest of the industry to create demand for the new cars they have committed to produce.
Super Bowl Ads Hyped Electric Cars. But Will Anyone Buy Them?
Photo, posted October 6, 2018, courtesy of Mike Fonseca via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
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