Hybrids Powering Automotive Marketing Disruption

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros
automotive volt
Marketing missteps helped bring the downfall of the Volt.

The disruption of green technology is forcing automotive manufacturers like Hyndai and Accura to get more creative in their marketing.

In a recent panel discussion hosted by Automotive News, Dave Evans, CMO of Hyundai Motor America noted that the brand is focused on streamlining its buying process with transparent online pricing. The goal is to make it so the average customer spends their time in the dealership learning about the vehicle and not haggling about the cost.

For Accura, demystifying new tech-like electric cars has been crucial. “Our big focus was really on education because what we found out was that most people don’t understand electrification other than a hybrid, and they don’t understand if it fits into their life,” noted Susie Rossick, assistant VP of Acura automotive marketing.

Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division marketing, agreed. “We’re moving into this area where education is a primary driver in every single campaign that we do.”


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Conveying the benefits and value of new automotive technology to consumers can be a tricky—and risky—proposition. Automotive News notes that thanks in part to marketing missteps, General Motors efforts to make electric cars more practical with plug-in hybrids took a hit this winter when production of the Volt ceased at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant.

“Overall, marketing and advertising for the Volt needed to focus on education as much as it did traditional selling,” said Michael Harley, managing editor of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “A lack of a proper customer perception played a very large role in the demise of the Chevrolet Volt.”

Hybrids are big business: Ford is second in hybrid sales in the U.S., and is angling to take over the top spot from Toyota by 2021. The automaker has invested $11 billion into electrification, and plans to add 30 new electric and hybrid vehicles to its line-up by 2022.

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