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Electric car advertisements
Part 2

Are electric car advertisements beneficial or detrimental? (Part 2)

Will electric cars be as beneficial to the environment as we perceive through electric car advertisements? (Part 2)

TP Creates: For us to fully understand if this renewable energy sourced car is truly the way forward, we need to analyse the pros and cons of both petrol/diesel and electric cars and if there are any similar aspects in how they are promoted through advertisements.

The pros and cons

The main benefits and the reason most people have and will stick with fossil fuelled cars until this problem is fixed is that it’s just a lot quicker to fill a petrol car up than an electric car which is highly important because we are in an era of time where everything must be as time-efficient as possible. ‘A typical electric car (Nissan LEAF 30kWh) takes 4 hours to charge from empty with a 7kW home charging point.’ (EvConnexions, 13/12/19)

Wilderness (29/12/19)

The other huge contributing factor is the price for a petrol car, most young drivers can’t afford a brand new car due to not having saved up enough disposable income to buy an electric car and so due to petrol cars having been around so long you can purchase a fully functional petrol car for as little as £100 2nd hand, this is something that can’t yet be done with an electric car to the same extent. Also, older drivers may be slower to make the transition due to scepticism, distrust and ingrained habits due to the type of car they were brought up using and how the media portrayed these cars.

But everyone can agree that in terms of the pollution a car alone makes, using petrol/ diesel or the process that involves burning a ‘fossil fuels’ (Krosinsky & Cort, pp. 251)  that it does indeed produce a lot more emissions than a similar car running on electric would, with an article from the guardian backing this point up stating that in London ‘almost 9,500 people die prematurely each year in the capital due to air pollution, with diesel exhaust a major contributor’ (TheGuardian, 4/1/20).

Irreversible damage

As well as this, gaining all this oil used for our cars means irreversible damage to the environment with oil spills being one of the biggest killers of wildlife. I.e. ‘Just think back to the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The resulting spill covered 68,000 square miles of sea surface and killed approximately 1 million coastal and offshore seabirds, 5,000 marine mammals and 1,000 sea turtles.’ (Wilderness, 29/12/19)

Why change?

So obviously the main factor to why people are changing to electric cars such as Peugeot’s new ‘e-Legend’ (Auto Express, pp. 10) is because of our ‘carbon footprint’ (Morrison, pp. 349) and this can clearly be backed up with the amount of advertisements around the benefits of electric cars. Such as this one based around the Nissan Leaf, implying that not only are you getting a great car but you’re getting a car that doesn’t harm animals hence the polar bears; as the car doesn’t create emissions adding to the melting of the polar ice caps.

Pinterest (2/1/20)

This point of changing to electric cars has been further emphasised in advertisements by the likes of the government, with the law being put in place that there is a major reduction in tax for company cars if they are electric in order to reduce emissions. ‘Pure electric vehicle with zero tailpipe emissions, company car drivers will be taxed at 0%, paying no BIK tax at all.’ (Fleetnews, 30/12/19)

Let's compare

But if we compare this to when diesel became extremely popular, a similar circumstance arose when the government advertised to consumers that the switch to diesel engines would be a lot better because they were better for the environment and very economical, this turned out to be false years later. ’Labour government’s support for diesel cars was a mistake, and warned that diesels are “literally killing people’ (The Guardian, 30/12/19)

Looking at this advertisement campaign from 1954 we can see a very similar theme to now with the eye catching elements of the design being the car and complemented with the words ‘On top of the worlds’, expressing to consumers this is the car you need if you want the best reliability and also economical value.

Pinterest (9/1/20)

One of the main electric car ad reasons

One of the main reasons many believe that the electric car is not as positive to the environment as we are lead to believe through adverts and infographics is that to produce all the energy needed for these car batteries we need to still burn fossil fuels.

In 2018 ‘33%’ (Smarter Business, 14/12/19) of the UK ran on renewable energy and that’s with a rather limited amount of people using electric cars. If even over half of the UK would switch to electric cars this % would drop drastically because currently we just don’t have the capacity using renewable energy to support all these batteries etc. This would result in the consumption of more conventional fuels such as coal etc being burnt to support this change to electric cars which could have detrimental effects on the environment such as more frequent acid rain. ‘The burning of fossil fuels such as coal for electricity is particularly blamed for acid rain’ (Morrison, pp. 353)

Another factor to consider

The other major factor is renewable power plants have a much smaller capacity in general than fossil fuelled plants. E.g. a conventional coal plant has a capacity factor of ‘85%’ (Ginley & Cahen, pp. 208) while a wind plant has a capacity factor of only ‘34.4%’ (Ginley & Cahen, pp. 208) which is a very large capacity gap between the two, something that is not advertised within the media when talking about the implications of switching engine. Also, if there was to be a hurricane for example this could cause ‘catastrophic blackouts’ (Krosinsky & Cort, pp. 203) on the grid meaning due to all cars needing electricity we wouldn’t have any transport for emergencies in this circumstance.

The VW car emissions scandal

Due to the case being that most cars are advertised by the producers of the car, can we ever completely trust what they are advertising? As most manufacturers, main goal is to make as big a profit as possible with as smallest total costs as possible.

If we dissect one company in particular whose advertisements were false and inaccurate we can start to understand if these manufacturers will advertise their electric cars in a different way to their previous cars in terms of being more truthful with what we are actually getting or will they keep the same structure as before and just add new content. We saw this untruthful way of advertising back in 2015 when VW caused an emission scandal with their diesel-powered car. Boasting to consumers through various advertisements that the car was very economical in both fuel usage and the number of emissions it produced. This turned out to be false when they were found to have ‘systematically cheated emissions tests in the US and Europe by using ‘cheat devices’ in engine ECU controls, so vehicles could detect when they were in a lab and when they were on a real road, trimming exhaust pollution significantly to score better in tests.’ (Car Magazine, 4/1/20)

More electric car ad examples

However, this is just one circumstance of where car manufactures have been untruthful with their advertisements and so can’t be used as evidence to say all manufactures will be like this in the future when advertising what their electric car can and can’t do. A prime example of an advertisement campaign that was not only extremely beneficial to the company in getting some good publicity but was also based off of honesty and truthfulness, was by Honda for their new car the Honda Accord. The advertisement which was a video to promote the reliability of the car and was ladled as The Cog andremains impressive because it was achieved with very little CGI trickery, with director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet insisting on months of pre-production testing to make this automotive game of Mouse Trap as authentic as possible.’ (Honest John, 3/1/20)

YouTube (5/1/20)

What was so interesting about the advertisement for this car was the structure of it. Instead of doing what most car manufactures do which is just show the end result i.e. the car and its performance by generally just driving it on the road saying this car is “great”, Honda decided to take a more creative and honest approach to their advertisement. They thought, how about we take a more honest approach to this design in order to show how reliable it is by showing almost all the nuts and bolts that go into making this car. Turns out this unique way of advertising was very popular and ended up being regarded as one of the best car adverts ever, because like the car the advert was generally accepted as very reliable in showing what you get with the car. ‘It’s generally accepted that the Honda Accord is one of the most reliable cars available.’ (Best Ride, 2/1/20)

Future electric car ad trends

With the assumption that not all the manufacturers will produce false advertising I could see there being a strong future trend in advertising cars using a similar template to Honda. This would not only thoroughly show to the consumer the similarities of what goes into making an electric car compared to a combustion engine car, helping ease people in who don’t like change. But also, the differences such as no exhaust pipe because no fumes are produced etc which could be a great way of showing some consumers the qualities that an electric car has that they may be unsure of.

Primary electric car ad research

SurveyMonkey (2/1/20)

I then decided to conduct my own primary research on this matter by creating a survey focusing on a very broad demographic of any gender or ethnicity who was also at an age where they could drive. I asked people a series of questions around what their opinions are on electric cars and the implications around the subject. I started the survey off with more basic questions such as if the person owned an electric car and the general response was no but 77% said they would feel comfortable owing one in the future. After this one of the most diversely answered questions came up which was: do you believe its ever possible to completely depend upon renewable electricity? This had 37.50% saying yes, 16.67% saying no and 45.83% saying not completely backing up my earlier statement saying we don’t have the capacity to go fully reusable.

SurveyMonkey (2/1/20)

Further down I asked if they believed there should be more adverts around electric cars and the general response was yes however 80% also voted on another question the fuelling time for a car is way to long and unpractical. Perhaps if there were more conventional adverts showing the everyday usage of an electric car allowing people to understand it can go a long time without charging rather than showing off its crazy features like the Toyota Pod does with its capability of being able to ‘express the drivers feeling’ (Merrell, pp. 252) the concept may be more popular.

Moving deeper into the survey I asked people if they had the choice between an electric and petrol Rolls Royce both at the same price which one would they choose and they results were around 50/50 with the electric just about taking the lead. This proved that the electric car market does have the demand it needs to be popular but would require more advertisng to really overcome convenmtial engines in the market.

Final question

The last question of the survey was open ended meaning I gave the audience a question and they could answer it however they liked. The question was: What’s your overall opinion on electric cars? A very frequent result was people stating they don’t really have one because they believe there aren’t enough advertisements for electric cars to make a suitable decision.

Anonymous 1: “I feel as though I don't know enough about them!”

Anonymous 2: “Good idea but too expensive at this moment in time for the majority of people because of the need in advancement of technology. People are still using old cars whereas there aren't many old electric cars.”

Anonymous 3: “They are a good way of combating climate change and in the future, I think everyone should be using them, especially with the rise in electric cars such as the new E-Tron.”

Combining primary and secondary electric car ad research

So, combining all this information together both primary and secondary research, will electric cars be as popular as they are perceived to be in adverts, or will they fail just like diesel engines did? ‘In western cities, car ownership is almost at saturation point. Road tolls and the banning of cars from city centres, are likely to force people toward public transportation’ (Newbury, pp. 11). However if public transport is to be a viable option it needs to be more economic and better run – price of rail is too high and service in either bus or rail is infrequent.

ThisIsMoney (6/1/20)

Final thoughts

From the current circumstances around electric cars I can see them sticking around for the forceable future and eventually becoming the normal car with petrol etc cars being rather scarce. However, if this is to become true and not end in the same way diesel cars have electric car manufactures need to be honest with their product from the future and inform people that yes these cars will have to be powered for a while by burning fossil fuels but in a smaller quantity than when we used petrol etc cars and eventually when technology improves even further this won’t be necessary.

We also need more advertisements of what an electric car can do better such as being able to go a lot further than a petrol/diesel car can on a single tank because currently there’s a huge stigma around electric cars due to their appearance and persona. The cars look very unusual and unfamiliar from the more classic car design, which I believe is a contributing factor to why people are put off purchasing an electric car. For example, the new Tesla truck looks like something from a video game rather than a real functioning everyday car people are used to. This has started to slowly change with car companies such as Porsche producing cars that look very similar to the predecessors in order to ease consumers into the change, but the damage may have already been dealt.

But with the rise in more efficient reusable energy sources such as Morocco’s solar powerhouse which has ‘solar mirrors that move with the movement of the sun’ (Morrison, pp. 340) and the usage of mini power grids the energy aspect may soon be irrelevant. Proving that yes, I do believe to a certain extent that electric cars will be as beneficial to the environment as perceived in advertising as long as there is honesty in the matter.

Car bibliography

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Auto Express (2018). Peugeot e-Legend. Auto Express the car news weekly, (1345), pp. 10-11.

bestride, (2018). RELIABILITY GUIDE. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Jan. 2020]

carmagazine, (2019). VW ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal UK class action. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020]

Dibb, S., Simkin, L., Pride, W., Ferrell, O. (2016) Marketing Concepts and Strategies. 7th ed. Hampshire: Cengage Learning EMEA, pp. 108

Diesel net, (2019). Early history of the diesel engine. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Dec. 2019]

Electricvehiclesnews, (2010). Electric Vehicles Definition. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020]

evconnextions, (2019). How long does it take to charge an electric car?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019]

Fleetnews, (2019). No company car tax on electric vehicles, says Government. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Dec. 2019]

Ginley, D. and Cahen, D. (2012). Fundamentals of Materials for Energy and environmental sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 206, 208.

Honestjohn, (2019). Top 10: TV car adverts. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020]

Krosinsky, C. and Cort, T. (2018). Sustainable Innovative Impact. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 203, 251, 252., (2019). Everyday Mysteries. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2019]

Morrison, J. (2017). The Global Business Environment. 4th ed. London: Palgrave, pp. 340, 342, 349, 352.

Newbury, S. (2002). The Car Design Yearbook. London: Merrel, pp. 12, 252.

Smarterbusiness, (2019). UK renewable energy percentage 2018 & 2019. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2019]

Soanes, C., Hawker, S. and Elliott, J. (2006). Paperback Oxford English Dictionary. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.637

The guardian, (2017). The death of diesel: has the one-time wonder fuel become the new asbestos?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020]

The guardian, (2015). UK government wrong to subsidise diesel, says former minister. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Dec. 2019]

thisismoney, (2019). How far can you travel on £5?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020], (2000). The first automobile. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Dec. 2019]

Wilderness, (2019). 7 ways oil and gas drilling is bad for the environment. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Dec. 2019]

Wired, (2009). July 30, 1898: Car ads get rolling. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2019]

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Wilderness, (2019). 7 ways oil and gas drilling is bad for the environment. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Dec. 2019]

My survey results:

Pictures used

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