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With the Push Towards Electric, Which Automakers Advertise Most?

With the Push Towards Electric, Which Automakers Advertise Most?

Only 1% of cars on American roads today are electric. But a decade from now, this won’t be the case. 

Between growing consumer interest, a policy push from the Biden administration and support from automakers themselves, we’ll see electric vehicles (EVs) become more of a norm than a luxury. 

Though the automotive industry went through the wringer last year and advertising plummeted, EV advertising in 2021 has already surpassed spending from the first seven months of 2019.

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Electric vehicle ownership is slim, but sales growth outpaces overall market

For each of the last three years, electric vehicles sales made up about 2% of new car sales in the U.S. But 39% of Americans say they would very or somewhat seriously consider buying one the next time they were ready to buy a car, per Pew Research Center

The growth rate of sales of EVs is significantly outpacing that of gasoline-powered cars. According to the Wall Street Journal, plug-in vehicle sales more than doubled year-over-year during the first half of this year, which was much greater than the 29% growth rate of total vehicle sales. 

And hybrid sales cars grew 142% in the same time frame. 

A main driver here is the early adoption from high-income consumers with single-family homes that can accommodate plug-ins (and as a bonus, solar panels, which bring down the price of the charge.) 

People bringing in less income face higher barriers to entry, even if the desire to drive an EV is there. EVs are more expensive, the tax credit isn’t overly incentivizing to those in lower tax brackets, and those with low to moderate incomes are more likely to live in apartments with less access to charging stations. 

Even though these barriers exist, politicians, utilities companies (that benefit from increased demand of electricity) and automakers are implementing policies to push the sales of EVs further. 

President Biden signed an executive order, with the backing of automakers, that will direct half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric.

This is part of his climate change pledge and as a way to keep up competition with China’s leadership and production.

Europe and China already outpace the U.S. in EV adoption due to their more supportive policies and stricter regulations. 

“The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future. We can’t sit by,” said President Biden.

Though the sale of EVs makes sense from a climate and business perspective, a bigger challenge will be changing consumer behavior. That job often falls on advertising teams. 

MediaRadar Insights

Electric vehicle ad spending has totaled $33 million so far this year, in a $2.9 billion automotive advertising market.

Automotive Ad Spend, Jan-July, 2019-2021 Chart

Though EV spending is only a sliver of total car advertising, it’s up 69% from 2019 where spend totaled $19.5mm over the same seven months. EV spending in 2020 was almost nonexistent. 

Electric Vehicle Advertising, Jan-July, 2019-2021 Chart

Note: This is spending from fully electric vehicles—hybrid vehicle ad spend is included in total automotive spend.

Top spending models in 2021 include: 

  • Volkswagen ID.4
  • Lucid Air
  • Chevrolet EV
  • Atlis Motor Vehicles
  • BMW ix
  • Nissan Leaf

Of the top spending models, only Nissan Leaf remained in the top six from 2019, where the top spending models were: 

  • Nissan Leaf
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Iconiq Motors
  • Volkswagen e-golf
  • Pininfarina
  • Lotus Evija

Notably, Tesla isn’t on this list because the company doesn’t use traditional paid advertising channels. CEO Elon Musk has famously said he hates advertising. Instead, the leader in modern, luxury electric cars relies on word-of-mouth marketing from its very loyal customer fanbase, in addition to the powerful influence of Musk himself.

But not every company has a CEO who has mastered Twitter as much as Tesla. So as EVs become more common on the road, we’ll pay attention to companies who are marketing their products using more traditional means. 

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