Driving change: the rise of electric cars and green automotive marketing

With less than a decade to go until the UK bans the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, the automotive industry is on a tight deadline to provide a viable alternative – and convince us to buy it.

Electric and hybrid cars are the frontrunners (although hybrids will also be banned by 2035), and we’re starting to see a rise in car companies advertising their new, greener offerings.

But let’s take a step back in time for a minute.

A brief history of the car

In 1886, German inventor Carl Benz patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen, and the combustion-engine powered car was born. By the 20th century, cars became widely available and Ford Motor Company created an affordable option that was enjoyed by the masses.

These days, a car is considered an essential for most households as a form of on-demand transport, and our entire infrastructure has been engineered with cars in mind.

As a community, our reliance on gas-guzzling, fossil-fuel powered engines is about to be shattered. With no new petrol and diesel cars as of 2030, the automotive industry is looking for ways to market the alternatives and drive the change we need to see.

But after a century of buying the same type of vehicle, it’s not easy to get people on board with something that looks, feels and behaves so very differently to what we’re used to. So how are they doing it?

There are two key electric vehicle customers

Firstly, the automotive industry started working with the two types of people who are most likely to try something new. These are:

The Environmentalists – customers who care deeply about the environment, who are passionate about sustainability, and want to do what they can to minimise their carbon footprint and lower their impact on the planet.

The Technologists – keen drivers and technology enthusiasts who are always in line to buy the latest gadgets, and love being the “first” to try new technology.

By focusing on these buyer personas first, car companies are able to gain some traction and start to build interest before tackling the mainstream. Here are some of our ideas on what they should do next…

  1. Prioritise customer education

Most of us ordinary folk don’t know an awful lot about electric vehicles. In fact, we can barely get our heads around our “normal” cars.

By prioritising customer education, you can make sure your audience understands the key similarities and differences between the old petrol and diesel cars, and the new eco-friendly options – so they’ll know what to expect when they try one out.

  1. Use simple language and make it easy

Following on from the first point – don’t overcomplicate things. When marketing electric vehicles, keep the language in your copy simple and easy to understand. Don’t overwhelm your audience with complicated scientific knowledge. Tell us what they need to know and what we want to know.

  1. Offer financial incentives

One way to get the mainstream public interested in a new product is to offer them a financial incentive. The good news is that with fewer running costs and the rising price of fuel to consider – electric vehicles are likely to cost you less over the course of ownership.

By focusing on this information, you’re likely to reach a whole new type of customer – The Money Saver. If you know of any government grants or you can offer any discounts and savings on the upfront price, shout about these as well.

  1. Mention environmental benefits

Electric vehicles aren’t perfect for the environment, but they’re a step in the right direction. The benefits of electric cars include producing fewer greenhouse gases. In fact, Electric cars produce three times less CO2 than equivalent petrol cars, which in turn reduces air pollution and provides us with cleaner roads for cyclists and pedestrians.

While it’s always a good idea to mention sustainability when marketing electric vehicles, you don’t need to rely on it as you’re only selling tool. A lot of customers will be far interested in other aspects of the car, which leads us onto our next point…

  1. Focus on fun and performance

For many people, cars are a source of enjoyment and something to pride themselves on. If having a cool looking, high performance, fast and fun car is something they’re used to, they won’t want to compromise on any of those things – and they shouldn’t have to.

Electric vehicles can be just as cool, just as fast, and just as fun as petrol and diesel cars, and it’s your job to make that clear in your marketing campaigns.

  1. Emphasise the novelty and newness

Compared to the combustion engine, electric cars are very new on the scene. This is a great opportunity to connect with customers who love to be the first to try new technology, always have the latest phone in their pocket, and jump at the chance to show off their latest toy to their friends.

The novelty won’t last forever, but for now, you can embrace the fact that not everybody has an electric car on the driveway. Because sooner or later that may not be the case anymore.

Those are some of our top tips for marketing an electric vehicle in the dawn of the green industrial revolution! If you’re an automotive brand looking to market your latest electric or hybrid vehicle, give us a shout and let’s see how we can work together to bring your ideas to life.

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