New ads for next-gen Chevrolet Volt attack Nissan LEAF, Toyota Prius

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a tour de force of engineering, a substantial step forward over its predecessor (see our cover story in the current issue of Charged). However, some EV industry observers fear that unless GM follows up on the technical improvements with some meaningful marketing, an area in which EV-makers have fallen short so far, sales will continue to be modest.

Chevrolet disappointed some when it delayed the nationwide rollout of the new Volt. It has already begun shipping the second-gen Volt to dealers in California and 10 other states. The rest of the US will have to wait until early 2016, when Chevy will launch the new PHEV nationally as a 2017 model, spokesman Randy Fox told Automotive News.

Now GM has announced that it will take a page from Lexus’s book, and launch a campaign of negative ads that aim to present the Volt’s PHEV system as superior to other forms of electrification. The new ads, which Chevrolet shared with auto writers at the new Volt’s recent press launch, will debut in long form on the internet, and later be shortened and broadcast on TV.

SEE ALSO: Lexus ad ridicules BMW i3
Misleading Lexus ad trashes plug-in vehicles

The first ad attacks the Nissan LEAF, showing people stuck between floors in an elevator, and drawing an analogy to what could happen if a pure EV such as the LEAF (or the Chevrolet Spark EV or Bolt) runs out of charge.

The second ad cracks on the Toyota Prius (which has sold over 8 million units worldwide), comparing its nickel metal hydride battery technology to the more modern lithium-ion batteries used in the Volt, and implying that the former present some sort of disadvantage for consumers.

“We’re going to go head-to-head with Leaf and Prius,” said Chevrolet Global Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney. “The ads allow Chevrolet to talk in one way and they allow Chevrolet’s personality to come through. We’re going to be taking more risks,” he said.


Sources: Chevrolet via Automotive News

  • ned_plimpton

    Here’s a novel idea…

    How about you go after plain old ICE cars which are WAY inferior to all three of these vehicles!

    • Collin Burnell

      Go ned_plimpton!!!

  • Ed Coles

    ‘We’re going to be taking more risks,” he said.’

    Sticking an ICE inside an EV? Sounds a lot more like playing it safe to me

  • Wade

    Interesting. They obviously are trying to communicate to those buyers that are considering buying an EV or a hybrid. The message they are trying to convey is that the Volt is a better choice than those other two, the main competition.

    The big challenge to me is to communicate to those buyers who want to buy a Hyundai or Civic or other ICE vehicle that a Volt is a better choice. I guess when you give people the math of gasoline vs. plugging in their eyes glaze over.

  • virtualvillian

    And in the other corner is the Chevy Cruise which is build on technology that is over 100 years old.

  • AnonOrange

    Extremely condescending! Also disingenuous. Toyota has plug-in Priuses with lithium batteries. The comparison should be made with those cars.

  • Maureen Blanc

    dumb…show the darn car and stop trying to be cute!

  • mitchyow

    How about real stats like the average motorist drives less than 50 miles per day. And if you dare, lets compare volt to 0 emissions leaf on carbon footprint and harm to the environment. I am a sales professional, we never mention the competition but know everything about them. These ads put Chevrolet and GM in the same corner with mud slinging politicians, big mistake!

  • Collin Burnell

    I find these ads to be a bit upsetting, short-sighted and basically stupid!

  • EV Safe Charge

    So sad to hear of GM’s negative advertising to try and save the last days of the ICE. They should be more worried about new competitors like Faraday Future who are creating the future of transportation. There’s still time for GM to stop the ill-conceived ads described in the article and turn to a more positive approach about the benefits of driving electric vehicles. They are also shooting themselves in the foot saying that pure EVs are bad as they will soon need to compete with more and more pure EVs which are in fact such awesome vehicles! Please GM stop this nonsense and do right by our planet and by the many consumers who still love you by embracing pure EVs and helping to transition to them faster rather than trying to slow down the inevitable.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    So GM are continuing with the same dumb strategy they used for the Bolt, in that case they had a go at Tesla, trying to stir up hate by claiming it to be just for the elite. Musk has it right, it’s ICE cars that should be targeted, lots more of them to get market share from than the still tiny fraction of the market currently owned by EVs. Trouble is GM make their money from ICE vehicles (just as Kodak made its money from film). Conflict of interest.

  • Damned_Right

    Why do I perceive GM’s marketing division as suits who don’t quite understand the purpose of the mission?

  • Damned_Right

    Then again, GM marketers seem as interested in Volt success as House Republicans are, working with the President to make the nation better (it’s actually just the opposite).

  • Damned_Right

    It is strange, that GM can produce a great car such as the Volt, yet continue to half-ass everything else, surrounding EVs, hybrids, et. al.

    It’s almost as though they can’t be taken seriously about their intent to manufacture the cars going forward without creating a new division for electrified automobiles, staffed by dedicated professionals who genuinely want to succeed.

    • vike

      I think the core problem is that GM still limits Voltec to two cars – the space-constrained Chevy Volt and Tesla-priced Cadillac ELR. A non-plugin version is coming to the Malibu, but it’s being retrofitted into a car designed for an ICE-only powertrain at the expense of cargo space. A plugin would be even less useful, leaving a trunk good only for light grocery shopping.

      2012’s Volt MPV5 concept presented an altogether different vision – a mid-size CUV with room for five adults and a full-size cargo bay. Somewhat shorter EV range and lower MPG on gas than the Volt would be the tradeoff, but in return you’d get a vehicle that could truly be a middle-class family’s only car while still operating most of the time as an EV. That would be the real win here, and the fact that GM’s moved on to a Gen2 Volt without bringing a more practical larger sibling to market contributes to the suspicion that GM leadership’s heart isn’t really in this project.

  • Electric Bill

    I wince looking at the segment where they are bragging about how much better their Gen II Volt is than their Gen I. It’s rather sad.

    I kind of see it as if they are a bunch of Cuban Communists that you are trying to coax out of their old ’50’s Chryslers, Hudsons and DeSotos. You wonder if you need to be gentle with them, or conk them on the head and say, “WAKE, UP!”

    I think the best thing for all of their engineers and, designers to do is to be forced to spend three or four months driving nothing but Tesla Model Ses and Xes.

    It would force them to see the enormous value in the “Electric skateboard” as Musk likes to call it… the whole battery pack becoming a huge, FLAT, structural component under the passenger compartment that is a major reason the Tesla gets a five-star rating in all crash tests, protecting passengers, giving enormous cargo space and a passenger compartment unviolated by humps and tunnels and structures that are there not for the benefit of the people within, but for the designers that are looking to make the thing roll down the highway like all cars before it for the last century. They’ll see that they have no business bragging about a “fifth seat” in the middle of the Volt’s second row that is certainly not as usable or comfortable as the other seats in their car. If it is nothing more than a thinly padded bench seat, and not as good as the other four seats, you have failed, especially for anyone that needs to sit there for any length of time.

    They would see why Tesla got the raves from Consumer Reports and all the car mags, and why it’s so revered by the general public. If they feel it necessary to make a hybrid of any kind, they need to start with the “electric skateboard”, and go from there… they should borrow as heavily as possible from Tesla– Musk won’t make them bleed if they do so, if he is truly trying to lead the competition away from the ICE as he says he is.

    Putting a tiny, vibration-isolated range extending generator behind the rear seats will leave them with less cargo and passenger space and a product that is less impressive than the Tesla, but will still be a significant leap forward from what they have now. If they are forced to spend a few months driving and experiencing the Tesla, they just might be convinced to make a full EV, even if it’s just a shadow of the Model S. It could be successful… if it could be offered with a variety of battery packs ranging from 110 to, say, 200 miles range, they could fill a gap that Tesla cannot now address, and which could give them a genuine niche. Such an EV could be affordable enough to undercut the Model III (or 3, depending).

    Whatever they do, they better wake up soon before they end up back in bankruptcy court again in less than 10 years. The NEED to learn to give the public what they really need and want, and not something just baby steps forward from the lackluster products they already have trouble selling.

    In truth, I do hope they succeed… competition is a good thing. But it is not really competition if they continue to play catch-up with the very formidable and nimble market leader.

    • Ben Tech

      Totally agree with you Bill. The “Gen 2” Volt is a fax machine. Sorry Chevy. News flash: your car Is targeting the ICE population and yet they’re trying to target EV. Whoever is doing Volt marketing is out of touch, and that’s being nice about it. Time for a new marketing team.

  • Jay Donnaway

    EVery time I start a charitable thought about GM (Gen 2 Volt) they manage to perish it!