Chevrolet Unleashes Attack Ads Against Prius And LEAF

The second-generation Chevy Volt is a quantum leap forward from the original. Chevrolet can be justly proud of the engineering and technical achievements that make the car lighter and more responsive while giving it more range. It even managed to cut the price $1,000 in the process. But instead of trumpeting all the good things about the car, it has decided to roll out a new ad campaign that attacks the Toyota Prius and Nissan LEAF. C’mon, guys. Seriously?

Anybody who is a sales professional knows that only jerks run down the competition (unless you are a politician, in which case it is required.) Most people tune out when a salesman says bad things about the other guy. If there is something good about your own product, tell people about it. Don’t waste time trying to slime others.

In the ad above, Chevy slams the Toyota Prius because it clings to old-fashioned hybrid technology when Chevrolet has embraced the plug-in hybrid model (or extended-range electric vehicle model, to be precise). Well, there are lots of people (especially Tesla fans) who think the Volt is lame because it continues to use dinosaur juice to get around. And the Prius has some of the highest fuel economy numbers of any car sold in America. There are rumors that an Eco version of the 2016 Prius may get up to 60 mpg on the highway.

In the ad below, the Nissan LEAF gets slammed because it only has 84 miles of range, after which Chevrolet suggests it is only good for use as a door stop or possibly a boat anchor. The ad totally overlooks the fact that the 2016 LEAF will have a 107 mile battery option and that the second-generation LEAF due out in 2107 may have as much as 250 miles of range. By the way, kudos to Nissan for offering customers a choice of battery sizes. That’s a trend that may become common in the future.

Chevrolet conveniently glosses over its own troubles getting the new Volt to market. It was supposed be out in 2016, but the company now says only California and 10 other states (and Canada) will get the new car by then. The rest of the country will have to wait until well into next year. Actually, most markets will get no 2016 Volts at all. When the cars finally get into showrooms, they will be designated as 2017 models.

Chevrolet says that it is only trying to raise public awareness of electric cars, and it is true that there are still a lot of misconceptions about EVs out there in the marketplace. It says its tests show brand recognition of the Chevy Volt is already up by 3% because the new ads are so effective. (That’s assuming such a thing can be accurately measured at all.) But has anyone bothered to measure what sort of damage these kind of attack ads do to the public perception of Chevrolet in general?

My guess is, most people find them offensive. They are an insult to all the engineers who worked so hard to make the new Volt the highly advanced vehicle it is. C’mon, Chevrolet. You guys are better than this!


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.