Big Picture: Cadillac ELR “Poolside” TV ad generates backlash; Fisker launches new website under new owner

Cadillac ELR commercial 2Cadillac’s “Poolside” TV ad for its ELR extended range electric luxury car, which has been airing recently during the Winter Olympics and Oscars, has generated a lot of unintended backlash. It’s been enough for Ad Age to interview Cadillac advertising director Craig Bierley about it. He says that the TV commercial has been misconstrued – it’s not targeted to the wealthiest, but to self-made customers who’ve used “hard work and hustle” and are now making $200,000 a year more. It’s created a maelstrom of debate with right-wing commentators seeing it as affirmation of what’s made the US great; left-wing commentators see it as ugly American chest-thumping. Green Car Reports readers have felt strongly about it – a recent article generated heated debated and more than 300  comments. Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s global chief marketing officer, doesn’t have any problems with it. The TV ad is delivering what they’d intended. The early research Cadillac had done on the ad suggested “we would break through the clutter and generate a hell of a lot of buzz. Mission accomplished.” There’s always the question of what TV ads like this do to America’s (and Cadillac’s) image in important global markets.

And in other clean transportation news……

  • The new website for Fisker Automotive speaks to its rebirth as an automaker now owned by Wanxiang America, the US arm of the largest auto parts company in China. “Fisker Automotive is poised & ready for a new beginning,” it states on the revamped website. It looks like the extended range Fisker Karma will return as it was before.
  • EcoMotors, the Michigan-based OPOC engine maker backed by Bill Gates and Vinod Kholsa, has created a joint venture in China with a subsidiary of First Auto Works (FAW), which is a Chinese state-owned auto manufacturing company. The FAW subsidiary, First Auto Works Jingye Engine Company, is investing more than $200 million into the venture that has been named BEM Shanxi Co. That venture will build an advanced engine designed by EcoMotors in 2015. EcoMotors previously established a similar deal with another Chinese company, Zhongding Power, nearly a year ago. Both Chinese companies are utilizing EcoMotor’s OPOC engine, which is said to be cheaper and more compact than conventional gasoline and diesel engines, and will deliver higher fuel economy and fewer emissions.
  • Linear City Development said it’s now offering the nation’s first apartment building to provide free electric vehicle charging for tenants. Linear City has installed 20 Level 2 EV charge stations at The Elysian, a 96-unit conversion of Los Angeles’ historic Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters. It will cover the cost of electricity for the life of every original EV-driving tenant’s lease.
  • BMW is getting strong initial orders for its i3 electric car, Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s CEO, said at the Geneva Motor Show. It’s already available in Europe and will soon roll out in the US and Asia. Orders might be more than the automaker has production capacity for right now, he said. The model with the range extender (which can go 160 miles versus 80 for the battery electric model) is getting more purchase activity from early buyers, he said.
  • Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, father of the original Toyota Prius, foresees hybrid models making up 20% of global auto sales; they’re at the 13% to 14% mark now. Honda may add to those numbers; the company issued a press release stating its renewed commitment to hybrid technology. That may have been damage control after news broke last month about one of its original hybrid models, the Insight, being pulled off production lines by the end of this year.

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