Data shows what we all knew: The auto industry isn’t advertising its EVs

Ford’s Workplace Charging Network

It has long been apparent to EV journalists (or to anyone who watches TV or reads magazines) that automakers have little interest in advertising their plug-in models – we’re inundated with car ads every hour of every day, but the clever commercials seldom mention the 30 or so EVs and PHEVs that are theoretically available in the US.

According to Global Equities Research, automakers spent an average of $1,000 on advertising per vehicle sold in the US market in 2015. How much of that was spent to promote plug-ins? Automakers don’t readily release such details, so statistics have been lacking. A recent blog post by Gina Coplon-Newfield, the Director of the Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicles Initiative, adds some much-needed facts and figures to the discussion.

The 2015 data, commissioned by the air quality group Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, is from CompetiTrack and Motor Intelligence, two companies that track auto advertising.

A few tidbits: Ford (whose CEO recently insisted that buyers had little interest in EVs) advertised its gas-powered Focus in about 4,750 TV spots for national audiences, whereas it only advertised its Focus Electric in about 200 instances. Mercedes ran about 1,400 national TV spots for its C-Class gas guzzler, and not a single ad for its B-Class EV.

Nissan and GM did a little better, but ads for their plug-ins are still vastly outnumbered by those for comparable legacy models. Nissan advertised the Sentra in about 3,500 instances to nationwide audiences, and the LEAF in about 1,750. GM advertised the Cruze in just over 700 nationwide spots, and the Volt in about 200.

What little advertising there is tends to focus on California. GM advertised the Volt to Golden State consumers in nearly 800 instances, but in only 10 instances to a Northeast-focused audience.

The few customers who do show up at dealerships interested in EVs often get discouraged or steered toward legacy vehicles. The Sierra Club recruited 174 volunteers to call or visit 308 car dealerships in the 10 ZEV states. They reported that many dealerships had few or no EVs in stock, hid them at the back of the lot, didn’t have trained salespeople, and sometimes couldn’t even provide test drives because they hadn’t bothered to charge the cars.

A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the auto industry severely restricts its electrified inventory. While there are 22 plug-in models for sale in California, no other state, including the ZEV states, had more than 14 models available. In 13 states, there were four or fewer plug-in models on offer.

Regulators will soon conclude their mid-term review of the 10-state ZEV regulations. Automakers are already pushing for regulations to be watered down, and they will surely repeat their claims that consumers aren’t interested in EVs. This new data (to say nothing of the tidal wave of reservations for Tesla’s Model 3) should help EV advocates to show how groundless those claims really are.


Source: Sierra Club

  • sugarmaker

    Disgusting but not surprising given the fact that there is far less money to be made by the dealerships from maintenance fees after the initial sale.

  • H.Invent





    Price for a Full Size or a Midsize SUV $ 24 to 26K. Peoples Car. Plus options


    PS: There is No such a thing as a Plug-In Electric Vehicle with Zero Emission. Not Now or Ever in the Future.

    There is No such a thing as a “Electric Vehicle Wireless Power/Charging System”

    It should be called Aboveground or Inground Electric Charging System Without Plug-In.

    • Electric Bill

      I’m not sure what your point is, Heinz— are you simply splitting hairs to be able to make someone wrong? You are challenging the term “wireless charging system” merely on the basis that inductive chargers have coils? If that is your point, you will gain yourself no friends… we all know what is meant by “wireless charging”— there is no cable to connect to the car, therefore is much more user-friendly and much more likely to be accepted as a convenient feature.

      NO ONE LIKES TO READ TEXT IN ALL CAPS AS YOU HAVE DONE… It is seen as “shouting”

      The vehicle you are trying to sell in your comment is vague and confusing… If you mean it runs off of some principle of “overunity”, say so, so that readers can more easily decide whether to ignore your comment as delusional, and you will not be wasting their time or yours.

      Selling any product costing tens of thousands of dollars by free comments online such as yourself is the poorest of business models and is to be discouraged… it makes you look like a fly-by-night, 19th-century snake oil salesman. If you want someone to take you seriously you need a brick-and-mortar location, and an actual identity that can be vetted.

      Don’t be the troll, Heinz

  • brian_gilbert

    To sell electric cars the makers should state the breakeven point given the mileage per year, and the years the car will be kept before being sold, at which point it costs less per year than an ICE car. Perhaps another reader could do a spreadsheet and give the answer here?

  • Dennis Worley

    Despite the fact that there are no adds for EVs in NZ ,used car dealers are selling low mileage EVs like hot cakes….word of mouth!

  • gizmowiz

    Their scared of putting their ICE business on ice.

  • ed monfort

    Dealers are just order takers. They don’t know how to sell and when they do it isn’t good and I am there 5 to 8 hrs.
    They are lazy and will just do what takes for the least amount of work for the most money and the auto manufactures allow it.
    Elon is the only one doing it right.
    Not taking up for Elon and it is just the facts because I have bought many cars and I remember what I went through each time I bought a car at a dealer.

  • Electric Bill

    They still push the lie that there is no public interest in EVs, even though the $35,000 Model 3 amassed 180,000 deposits of $1000 each within 24 hours, and eventually racked up a total of ~400,000 deposits—and thatcis, for a, car they could, not even test drive, or receive for years! If Tesla had, opened its, doors one day announcing it had an, unlimited supply of Model 3’s, can you imagine how many would, have been sold in a single day?

    By some coincidence I am writing this comment outside the doors of the L.A. Chevy dealer after inquiring about their new Bolt EV… I saw no enthusiasm for the subject in the least… ditto for the Fiat 500e and other EVs, being “sold” by legacy dealers.

    Fellas, Tesla (and maybe Lucid?) are eating your lunch.