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The Automotive Media Has a “Present Tense” Problem When It Comes To EVs

It’s time that the automotive media stops hyping future electric vehicles, future electric vehicle prices, and future EV deliveries before they actually happen. 

In a very positive story penned four months ago about the unreleased all-electric Volvo EX30, Motor Trend reported, "Poke around the automotive world a bit these days, and you'll trip over half a dozen doom and gloom headlines predicting a sudden collapse of the EV market in America. Never mind that EV sales and market share are up year over year, quarter over quarter, and month over month and continuing to climb." 

The story inferred that the success of EVs was being misrepresented by some evil-doers. This story by Motor Trend highlights well that there a schism is taking place in the automotive media. There are publications and writers who want something, and they report on that outcome exclusively, true or not. They also call into question the facts of anyone who feels contrary to their beliefs. Often, they go so far as to call anyone reporting news contrary to what they hope will occur a shill for a special interest group. Big Oil, Big Lithium, choose your side. Then, there are reporters who report the less exciting news of what is actually taking place. The lattter are starting to become the villains.

The story reported by Motor Trend back in November stated that the EX30 "starts at $36,245... " Note that the unit in front of the three is an American dollar sign. How does a vehicle that is not for sale "start at" any price? The story also says, "Cars are a lot more than their numbers, but in the EX30's case, the numbers really do sell the car." But the car is not on sale. So how can its numbers sell it?

In Volvo’s most recent press release summarizing its North American vehicle deliveries for February, the company reported, "Fully electric cars accounted for 5.9 percent of total sales, a decrease of 58.3 percent over the same period last year." Huh. A massive percent decrease in deliveries. So, maybe the evil-doer folks were not wrong. Could a drop by 58% be accurately termed a “sudden collapse of the EV market?” Volvo’s presser also does not mention the EX30. The reason is that the EX30 is (still) not on sale in the North American market. 

Motor Trend is not alone in being overly exuberant about EVs that are not really here yet. Much of the automotive media hyped the Chevrolet Equinox as a low-cost savior for the EV market. Headlines about the car costing around $30,000 were common six months ago. Then, the rug was pulled out from under that price point by GM, and the vehicle never went on sale. When GM recently responded to our periodic check-in on the vehicle, there was still no date set for the first deliveries of the vehicle.

Similarly, the media cannot help but exaggerate the prices of vehicles, even when they know they are doing so. In a piece published at Inside EVs this week, the title reads, “Jay Leno Thinks The New Tesla Model 3 Is A Great Deal For Under $40,000.” The problem is that the pretty red Model 3 with the fancy wheels that the folks quoted in the story are talking about starts at over $44K, not under $40K. And the one that Jay Leno himself experienced is not yet on sale to the public. The Model 3 Dual Motor in red with its optional wheels is priced above $52K. Elektrek knew this and admitted so in the story. Yet, they ran the headline anyway. 

The crazy thing about these exaggerations, fibs, and slights of hand by the folks who want a result for EVs is that it is totally unnecessary. Battery electric vehicles have many plusses and have made inroads into the automotive marketplace. GM and Volvo make some of the very best EVs in the world. Your author has reviewed them positively here and named them to “Best EV” lists at other publications. The difference is that when I do so, my publishers and I report on cars that actually exist, and I report the actual cost to the consumer. 

Hyping lower than actual costs for EVs, pretending that there isn’t hard evidence of a slowdown in the rate of adoption of EVs, and taking the easy path with misleading headlines should not be necessary to earn pageviews. Yet, these practices seem to be ever more common.

Image of European market EX30 courtesy of Volvo

John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his eleven years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.


JK (not verified)    March 6, 2024 - 11:30PM

This is really shoddy reporting. To say that a car that is taking preorders for summer delivery is not “for sale “ is misleading.

Secondly, Volvo has announced pricing, not left consumers guessing about the price range of an upcoming vehicle. So saying announced pricing is irrelevant because the car isn’t yet being delivered is , once again shoddy reporting.

Maybe if this reporter wrote better researched articles he could find his way to a respected publication like Motor Trend.

Volvo has taken the first step to offering an affordable stylish and well built EV. The obstacle to growth in EV sales is selection at lower price points. This hit piece written to elevate it’s author’s ego is, once again, just shoddy journalism

George Rozes (not verified)    March 8, 2024 - 8:27AM

In reply to by JK (not verified)

This is a Chinese car. That makes it susceptible to Congressional/presidential action to ban it as a national security threat or extract large fees to keep it coming to the US, either of which will destroy the car and its price point. Chill out, brother. This isn't real, yet.