The age of the internal combustion engine is over. According to McKinsey, the uptake of electric vehicles is surging, and is predicted to eat up half of the total auto ownership market by the mid-2030s. In order to preempt that change and get ahead of competitors, auto makers have had to twist considerably in order to find new marketing strategies to appeal to the new generation of electric vehicle favouring motorists. Despite that, there remains a small flame pointed towards the old-school adherents of the combustion engine, that may indicate a continued importance for years to come.
One big reason behind the recent shift towards EVs is a change in law. In the USA, California and many other states have implemented ICE phase-out laws which are having an impact on neighbouring state economies – meaning greater uptake in the general market for EVs. As a result, there’s been a big push from manufacturers across the country, and the world, to start putting EVs forward as the main form of automotive. As Bloomberg highlights, the marketing fiesta that is the Superbowl featured a huge amount of pro-electric advertising in 2022. That includes the Hyundai “Gas Card” ad, which featured the well executed if blunt imagery of a younger driver handing back a gift card for gas back to her father; the passing of the baton from the younger generation to the older.
Embracing the sustainable
Alongside the legislated push that will mean EVs replace ICEs as the main form of vehicular transportation, there are societal shifts that necessitate a change in view. As CleanTechnica highlights, EV market share is spiking in even those European countries lagging behind the likes of early adopters Norway and Ireland, and this is largely down to sustainable marketing measures. In Europe, the importance of a green-and-lean style of living, in which energy use and emissions are minimised, goes hand-in-hand with electric vehicles. Harnessing the desire of the market is important, and the desire of the market is overwhelmingly pro-environment – especially the crucial younger demographics.
Looking to the past?
Just as there will be an orthodoxy and popular movement in advertising trends, there will be a counterculture, or reactionary movement, that seeks to promote those cars that were the favourites of yesteryear. With research analysed by Quartz mag showing that some EVs are in their production gas guzzlers (especially if their electricity is fossil fuel generated), manufacturers of classic ‘big’ cars are pushing back against the EV marketing revolution. Several manufacturers have tapped into this; Porsche with their NOW and THEN campaign, to Mustang’s Speed Dating effort. There is a clear niche for ICE cars to continue being promoted and, ironically, it might only grow with pressure from the electric market share.
Keep a close eye on the auto marketing industry for that reason. While EVs will continue to dominate and marketing will apply to that sensibility, a paradox will unfold as more space somehow opens up for the classic ICE market.