Posted by Dale Buss on July 15, 2013 10:16 AM
If US government edicts, mammoth federal and state tax credits, TV ads starring polar bears, guilt trips by Hollywood celebrities and fawning coverage by the nation's news media don't move all-electric vehicles, how about an old-fashioned tactic from the nation's blurry economic past: price cuts.
A rip-roaring price war of sorts has begun to break out in America among peddlers of EVs that face continued frustration in gaining mainstream market demand for their cars even as Tesla draws plenty of interest from the well-to-do for its well-reviewed, $70,000 Model S electric car.
Ford just announced that it plans to lop $4,000 off the $39,200 base price of the 2013 Focus EV, before a $7,500 federal tax credit. That followed Nissan cutting the starting price of its slow-selling Leaf by $6,400, to $28,800, and extending a new offer of a $199 monthly lease.
The Fiat 500e, meanwhile, which goes on sale later this summer, also carries a $199-per-month lease and a nifty proviso that allows owners to borrow conventional cars from a rental company when they need to carry significant loads or travel outside the car's roughly 70-mile range.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 11, 2012 04:03 PM
These are rough times for the electric-vehicle business, despite sky-high gasoline prices, extensive marketing of EVs, and a continual drumbeat of support by the news and entertainment media and governments at all levels.
Nissan has become so concerned about lackluster sales of its all-electric Leaf that it is trimming the price on its 2013 model. Ford is in no hurry to invest marketing resources in the launch of its new Focus Electric. And Toyota — which can count on the success of its Prius hybrid brand instead — has all but forsworn any significant EV presence in the market for at least the next few years.
Why? Despite incredible marketing investment and societal pressure thrown behind getting car-buyers to adopt all-electric vehicles, American consumers by and large are resisting the very notion of EVs. A new study even casts doubt on the net environmental benefits of electric cars, depending on how the power to charge their batteries is produced.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2012 03:09 PM
When Chrysler airs the first TV commercial for the 2013 Dodge Dart tonight during the All-Star Game, a lot more is at stake than may be readily apparent.
The spot opens with the line, "'How to change cars forever," features cameos by Tom Brady and other athletes, runs for an unconventional 90 seconds, and positions Dart as a game-changer. It really needs to be that for Chrysler, for a number of reasons.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 22, 2012 02:04 PM
Fresh from its primetime reality TV series experiment with NBC, Escape Routes, Ford is about to embark on yet another branded-content experiment. Plugged In is a weekly online-only series on Yahoo! Screen that's designed to promote the company's first-ever all-electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric, with a reality TV-style competition series (Yahoo's first) that launches May 29th.
The online teaser sets up the show's premise (and reinforces Ford's new "Go Further" tagline) for the branded entertainment partnership: Ten two-person teams will compete to win individual Ford Focus Electrics by hopscotching the country to visit celebrities, who will help the Plugged In teams navigate a kind of road rally cum scavenger hunt built around the celeb's own lives and locales.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 11, 2012 11:03 AM
Ford really likes this reality-show thing. Its latest experiment, Escape Routes, has yet to reach mid-season on NBC, and the company announces another series with a similar format to be produced with Yahoo.
Yahoo and Ford will welcome the availability in May of Ford's first all-electric car, the Focus Electric, with Plugged In, which Yahoo is calling its first reality competition series. It'll be broadcast exclusively on the Yahoo! Screen service, and will feature six two-person teams competing against one another in a series fo challenges centered on the chance to win a Focus Electric.
Sounds a lot like Escape Routes, the Saturday-night series entering its third week right now on NBC. The teams of Millennials are competing for cash (and air time, of course), but the real star of this trailblazing program is the 2013 version of the Escape SUV. And the first episodes show a lot of the vehicle. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 2, 2011 06:31 PM
All-electric vehicles in U.S. auto showrooms are becoming the equivalent of prune juice in the supermarket aisle: You've got to make it available for certain individuals and apparently for the overall health of the planet, but don't expect a lot of genuine excitement about its purchase. And don't expect it to pay the bills.
Ford is about to find out just what a yawn EVs are to most American consumers, now that it has priced its new Focus Electric and has begun taking orders for the car. The sticker is $39,995, identical to the once-reduced price of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid, and $3,900 more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The purchaser of each vehicle is welcome to capitalize on the generosity of the American taxpayer to the tune of federal incentives up to $7,500.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 29, 2011 07:01 PM
Ford has created a mini-tempest by pulling a TV ad (above) from its Drive One series in which a buyer of its F-150 truck credits the company for not accepting a federal bailout in 2009 when General Motors and Chrysler did. Or, looked at another way, the customer in the ad himself, Chris McDaniel, is creating the mini-tempest.
Detroit News columnist Daniel Howe began the row by suggesting that the ad, which was launched in early September, was pulled by Ford "after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating" the Obama administration's bailouts of Ford's chief rivals.
Ford spokeswoman Meghan Keck told brandchannel that there was "no pressure involved" in Ford's decision and that the spot featuring McDaniel was rotated on and off the air just like other ads in the series, which features real Ford customers answering "questions" at a staged press conference.
In the ad, McDaniel said that he "wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that's standing on their own: win, lose or draw. That's what America is about."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 28, 2011 05:57 PM
It was only last week that we asked, "Has Ford's Focus Spokespuppet Doug Jumped the Shark?" Turns out, he has jumped ship entirely.
Ford has decided to shelve Doug, the orange spokespuppet for the Focus, after a six-month run that did wonders for consumer interest in the car, exceeding the company's initial expectations.
Brandchannel has learned that the denouement of Doug's story will be told on Thursday with the release of the last new video in a series of many.
Ford released the penultimate chapter today, a Doug-less video that featured only "John," the human handler for the smart-alecky mascot, bemoaning the departure of his friend after Doug drove off himself in a 2012 Focus.
"The video today tipped it off," Scott Monty, Ford's head of social media, told brandchannel. "Tomorrow we'll have the concluding video."Continue reading...