When the Short Circuit (aka Volt) fails...
Ads touting gas generator could backfire with devotees
General Motors plans an upcoming national ad campaign to paint the
Chevrolet Volt as an electric car that gives true freedom with its
gasoline-powered generator. But that approach has frustrated
The ads are expected to debut during Major League Baseball's World
Series, likely late this month, with the tag line " 'It's more car than
electric,' positioning the Volt as the fact that it can be your only
car," said Tony DiSalle, product marketing director for the Volt.
But the tag line risks alienating electric-vehicle enthusiasts, said
Chelsea Sexton, who worked for GM leasing the EV1 electric car it built
from 1996 to 1999 and is now a full-time electric-vehicle advocate and
"It almost sounds apologetic for the electric part," Sexton said. "GM's
mission needs to be broadening the circle without alienating the people
that are already inside it."
GM is targeting its ads to mainstream buyers, seeking to reassure them
that the car's built-in generator will give them freedom from worrying
about finding a place to charge when the battery runs low.
"There is a misperception among the mass market that electric vehicles
are niche vehicles," DiSalle said. The commercials show cars driving in
the countryside, far away from a fast charging system.
Electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, which is expected to launch late
this year, don't have a generator, so consumers need to find an outlet
to charge them slowly or a special charging device to charge them in a
The Volt commercials also play up freedom from the gas pump; GM says
most consumers will be able to travel on the Volt's 25- to 50-mile
battery range most days without needing to use the generator. The ads
use the words "a newfound freedom."
GM says the Volt will go more than 300 miles on a full battery plus a
tank of fuel. The Volt's generator has a 9.3-gallon gas tank.
The Volt is to go on sale in mid-November in California, New York City,
Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas. In early March, Volt sales are to
expand to Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and the rest of Texas and
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