It’s been a long time since I’ve written about compact fluorescent light bulbs, so I think I’ll keep it that way.
This rant is brought to you by our friends at E Source. Actually, as I was scrounging around for some information on their site, I came across this article on electric vehicles, or EVs, which left me mentally agape. I am going to guess the author, Jay Stein, lives and breathes EVs and has for years. It appears he has worked tirelessly to bring the EV from the Frivolous Novelty to gas-electric hybrid stature and beyond, but jeezo, allow me to provide a little advice.
Mr. Stein notes a range of metaphors have been used to describe the moribund EV market, and he selects one he believes accurately describes the failures of EV marketing: that EVs are marketed and sold like medicine – that the marketing message is tainted with a guilt trip. I.e., “Your choices and actions are destroying the planet and threatening national security, and you need an antidote for what ails you.” He goes on to describe that Americans don’t want to be strong armed into things, and they want better stuff at a reasonable cost, not necessarily lower cost (latter being my opinion). So far, so good.
This statement floored me: “…we’ve placed way too much faith in the automotive manufacturers, and it has become painfully obvious that they cannot be trusted with the sole responsibility of marketing EVs to the public.” Holy mother of all things bovine, did someone just mention something about strong arming? Trust?
I don’t trust most things. But marketing things, from the perspective of success or failure of a campaign to the public, is not one of them. I don’t trust or believe any political ad for example, but apparently millions of people are ignorant and naïve enough to do so because they make a difference. I “trust” the outcome/result of political ads, but they are all half truths, lies, or damn lies. Post election, people go back to their ignorant world and don’t pay attention whatsoever to how their elected officials live up to their hallowed out campaign façades.
This cannot be done with products. Customers suckered, er I mean convinced to buy products, live with their decision and their products. When the schticky doesn’t schtick, the consumer, including the fleeced author, owns $25 of crap. That’s ok, but I don’t want $40,000 of crap. Can you imagine the resale value on one of these things?
He goes on to say, “Auto companies have proven time and again that this is not their forte, and the information these companies do provide is too often biased by both proprietary investments or other competing business interests, like the desire to sell large gas-guzzlers at a comfortable margin. Carmakers are also quick to place the burden of responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the consumer rather than accepting responsibility for slow market uptake.”
Have you ever seen the old Batman shows – back when the costume was polyester-like pajamas, not the recent rubber suits? Whap! Bam! Ooof! This knocks me out!
A respectful memo to Mr. Stein: Auto companies are in business, as is every for-profit enterprise, to make money. Companies like Johnson Controls, Siemens, Honeywell, and General Electric push agendas to direct federal money to their pockets, but I cannot think of companies pushing any other agenda than profit for the owners; be they privately held or publically held.
I did not know that I, as a consumer, was burdened with the uptake of my iPad, which I lampooned several times in this blog and take full responsibility for being totally wrong. It is a transformative communication, media, and professional work tool. Perhaps we should trust Apple with the uptake of EVs? They seem to have a knack for it. The point is, Apple, particularly with its modern era iPod, iPhone, iPad, and their computer products, manufacture stuff people really, really want, and that’s based on the fact that their stuff has been incredibly innovative, useful, AND reliable. Sorry to disappoint, but the EV is a handicap that does far less, not far more and far better like Apple products do.
What’s more, Carlos Ghosn, CEO who brought Nissan back from near bankruptcy to a hugely profitable car company, I believe has made a mistake and stated at the recent Detroit auto show that, “It [the Leaf] was a disappointment for us.” Furthermore, when it comes to “trusting” automakers to successfully market their EVs, Nissan rolled out one of the best and most clever ads I’ve ever seen on TV. What’s even more hilarious about this ad that I just noticed, was the guy for a second filling the tank of his Chivy Volt. I have read, in many times and places, about Carlos and the Leaf, and I can tell you he is (or was) a true believer in this product. I trust Nissan’s marketing skills. I do not trust their judgment.
Auto makers are rolling out efficient vehicles in spite of the federal government and not because of its misguided policies. Ironically, the Federal Reserve’s easy money policy has weakened the dollar, hoisting the cost of dollar denominated crude oil. Resultant, and seemingly permanent high gasoline prices, have auto makers developing high mileage vehicles like the conventional Chivy Cruze Eco at 42 mpg (take note, Prius), and big auto is rolling out diesel models with much greater fuel economy. I once owned a Ford Escort diesel almost 30 years ago (gulp) that achieved a modern-day astonishing 50 mpg. Why did I buy that? Because I am a hard-wired efficiency freak and the price was very modest. My college buds and I drove it to CA for spring break with only a handful of brief stops for refueling. Try that, EV.
 100% agreement here!
 Call me crazy but I call this corruption.