QOTD: Is VW Actually Harming EV Adoption With Its Renaming?

qotd is vw actually harming ev adoption with its renaming

It’s no secret that we here at TTAC don’t agree on everything when it comes to cars, culture, or politics (Or sports. Using memes to troll staffers who cheer for rival teams is a favorite pastime in our Slack channel).

We don’t speak as one editorial voice, nor do we practice neutral news reporting — we allow for editorializing, analysis, and commentary/opinion, as long as we’re fair, factually accurate, honest, and upfront about any potential biases. It’s one thing I love about working here — I can, if appropriate, put a little commentary into a news post. Overall, I try to allow everyone to be free to express themselves.

Yet, for all our various viewpoints, sometimes we agree on something. And I was right there with Matt yesterday when he fumed about Volkswagen becoming Voltswagen. The change is official, by the way — VW confirmed it.

I agree with Matt that the move is cringe-worthy marketing. I agree that it’s dumb. And I really, really, agree with this passage: “We’re now reaching the point where the segment is becoming a parody of itself. And it’s gradually turning mainstream buyers away while only serving to create more obstacles for an industry that claims to want to normalize EVs. Automakers need to stop worrying about how they’ll be branding their push into electrification and profiting off customer data and start worrying about whether or not consumers are going to be interested.”

In other words, instead of focusing on terrible marketing efforts, focus on coming out with a strong EV product, especially if you’re interested in becoming an OEM that’s considered a leader in the EV space.

Like Matt, I think these awful marketing efforts are actually counterproductive. If EVs are to grab the lion’s share of the marketplace, consumers need to see them as normal, and not exotic.

Obviously, some of that will be addressed by technology. Once ranges increase and charging times drop, and chargers become more accessible, the biggest technological hurdles to EV adoption will be cleared, and slowly, consumer adoption will increase.

But for now, with EV market share under 5 percent and many consumers still hesitant to go electric, some attempts to make EVs (and other electrified vehicles) seem special seem to be backfiring.

It’s not just VW. Remember the Volt dance? How about Ford being so afraid the Mach-E won’t sell that it borrows the Mustang name for cred, despite the fact the two cars don’t even share a platform? Or all the EV marketing that only seems to focus on green cred, while ignoring that EVs can be fun to drive and/or attractive and/or still offer utility?

I get why OEMs want to position themselves as leaders when it comes to EVs. The shift towards electrification is slowly picking up, the political winds have shifted, and there are very real concerns about climate change. OEMs want to be seen as being ahead of the curve.

But there’s a fine line between showing the masses that you’re all in on a massive technology change, one that is perceived as good for, and may actually be good for, the planet, and showing your asses when it comes to tooting your own EV bonafides.

So I ask of you, not one, but two Questions of the Day. Question one — are these marketing blunders counterproductive when it comes to getting the masses to adopt EVs? Question two — how can a manufacturer show that’s a leader when it comes to EV adoption without stepping in this sort of quicksand?

Have at it, folks.

[Image: [s]Volkswagen [/s]Voltswagen]

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2 of 46 comments
  • RRocket RRocket on Mar 30, 2021

    This is a well constructed April Fool's joke IMO.... Quite surprised that TTAC thinks otherwise.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 30, 2021

    VW should change their name to Voltswatten it might electrify their sales.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?