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Parks McCants's picture

Big Oil and negative brand perception stalls electric vehicle sales momentum

In October and November, Torque News gained some seat time in Chevy Bolt, Honda Clarity, and Hyundai Ionic. These compact 5-door electric hatchbacks are viable everyday drivers by any measure. Yet, there’s a factor or two keeping Bolt and other segment breaching EVs from going mainstream.

The #! obstacle to electric vehicle sales success is Big Oil driven friendly utility propaganda, and preconceived negative brand perception. You see the commercials running daily: “Big Oil is environmentally friendly, cares about you the consumer, creates and preserves jobs, and is investing in alternative methods of electricity production, storage, and cleaner burning alternative fuels." I'm gagging!

Hey, why bother going EV, when gasoline is now touted as being environmentally friendly. This marketing problem is not exclusive to Chevrolet. We drive Chevy Bolt EV and walk away impressed.

#2 Negative car brand perception

Although companies like Chevrolet measurably recovered from the Great Recession, many regions of the U.S. have not. There lies the problem with Chevrolet main streaming an electric vehicle -- case in point, the well received yet undersold Chevy Bolt EV -- a superior electric drive and ride experience by any measure,
is not available in most regions of the United States, ( Chevy tells us there is limited consumer demand) and undersells where it is available.

For consumers, the choice to purchase a specific brand name often comes down to trust -- based on a past buying or service experience. When the original General Motors went bankrupt during the Great Recession, many consumers were left holding vehicles with problems, no longer backed by factory warranty. Dealerships and service centers dropped of the map at an unprecedented rate, as auto sales shrank to unprecedented proportions.

The collective memory of consumerism may be short, but for those burned by banks and T.A.R.P bailed out big business, the stink remains. Chevrolet while recovering, has a lingering public relations problem -- many Americans don't trust the brand. How about FCEV, General Motors is in partnership with this company.

Negative brand perception is not limited to Chevrolet

In today's ever evolving alternative auto industry, we find several major and minor auto manufacturers spinning off EV (electric vehicle) exclusive alternative under existing brand plates, or energized, consumer group derived catchphrases. Much like G.M.’s pre-recession success, and now defunct Saturn car brand, to truly break through the cheap IC engine competition, Chevy Bolt may need to re emerge on the market as it’s own electric car brand. Hyundai promises 4 engine,electric motor choices by model year 2020.

Get it? Kia has Genesis, Volvo has Polstar, and…

For Chevrolet to go high volume production mainstream with Bolt, or any EV platform for that matter, a brand plate and dealership network specific to a renamed GM electric car Division must come to fruition in the near term. As shared with us last week by Ron Cogan managing editor of Green Car Journal, electric vehicles in America have reached a tipping point. As priced, with or without tax incentive, Chevy Bolt is a measurable value. With an exclusive brand name, General Motors developed electric motor vehicles sales under an exclusive EV-only brand name will soar.

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