As we approach the end of the year, we’ll be covering trends from 16 key markets. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.
Since Elon Musk took a controlling share in Tesla more than a decade ago, electric vehicles have steadily grown in popularity.
By 2030, it’s projected that over half of passenger cars sold in the U.S. will be electric, thanks in large part to consumer incentives in President Biden’s new climate spending.
As climate initiatives continue, and technological advancement ease consumer worries, including those regarding price, range, and electric bills, ad dollars will follow.
Here’s how electric vehicle advertisers spent through Q3 2022 and what the future may hold for legacy players and new entrants alike.
MediaRadar Insights on Electric Vehicle Advertising
Through Q3 2022, advertisers in the electric vehicle industry have collectively spent $228mm, representing a 143% YoY increase from the same time in 2021.
All three quarters this year have seen big increases in budgets. In Q1, for instance, ad spending increased by 222% YoY. Meanwhile, Q2 and Q3 experienced bumps of 106% and 131% YoY, respectively.
That’s not surprising, given the industry’s growth.
However, it is surprising that advertisers decreased their spending in September by 29% YoY. (September saw a modest 4% MoM dip from August as well.)
While spending from electric vehicle advertisers still increased YoY, the sudden decrease came at an odd time.
At the end of August, California introduced new state regulations requiring all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold to have zero emissions by 2035. For automakers that weren’t on the E.V. bandwagon, this all but punched their ticket.
President Joe Biden also announced an investment in electric vehicle charging stations around the same time.
Still, the E.V. industry is doing just fine.
Although challenges remain, everything’s trending up, including spending from these advertisers—the spending just isn’t coming from the company you likely expect.
Top Electric Vehicle Advertisers in 2022
Through Q3 2022, five E.V. manufacturers were responsible for 94% ($213mm) of the industry’s ad spending, including Hyundai, General Motors, Lucid Motors, Moke America, and Volkswagen.
Hyundai increased its ad investment by 16x through Q3 to promote the Kia EV6, collectively spending nearly $11mm on 224 properties.
Although the Hyundai EV6 is pricey—2023’s model will start at nearly $50k—the company has proven itself to be a major player in the industry.
In fact, Kia recently announced that it achieved its strongest November US sales month on record.
At the same time, its parent company, Hyundai, also surpassed its previous US November sales record, thanks to increased demand for the IONIQ5 and Kona EV.
As Hyundai continues to solidify itself in the E.V. world, its advertisers will remain committed to spending big—and we know this because the Hyundai Motor Group plans to invest $7.4b by 2025 to scale its E.V. program in the U.S.
General Motors increased spending by 62% YoY to promote the Chevrolet Bolt. The company also introduced the Chevrolet Blazer EV and leaned 100% into digital advertising across 365 properties.
With the high sticker price of many electric vehicles remaining a prohibitive factor for many, Chevrolet’s more affordable models will likely warrant an increasing amount of ad dollars moving forward.
While General Motors doesn’t have the lion’s share of the market today, it’s trending in that direction—and recent moves from the legacy automaker make that takeover seem like a real possibility.
In July, GM launched E.V. Live to help new owners and potential buyers “understand the quirks and nuances of the tech-heavy vehicles.”
How? By directing them to a call center where they can work through their challenges with a specialist via a display.
Hoss Hassani, GM’s vice president of EV ecosystems, said, “In their moment of need, in their moments of anxiety, who gave them the answer to their question? Who resolved that anxiety? General Motors.”
Through Q3, advertisers at Lucid increased their spending on its Lucid Air by 54% YoY. Overall, they decreased their investment in print by 78% YoY while doing the opposite with TV (up by 43% YoY). Digital ads were part of Lucid’s strategy as well (primarily on YouTube automotive channels).
While Lucid reported Q3 losses, the company also confirmed it’s on track to meet production guidance. Add to that an announcement about increasing the size of its Air electric sedan lineup, and it’s leaving little doubt that there’s still room to play in the increasingly competitive E.V. world.
Moke America is back with a twist.
Although the company was widely associated with the British Army in the 1950s and the beach in the years that followed, it’s reemerging in the E.V. industry—and its advertisers are doing what they can to make some noise.
Through Q3, Moke America’s advertisers have increased their investment by 67x YoY to more than $4mm, with nearly all of it (98%) going to Instagram.
The company’s affinity for social media speaks strongly to its target audience and its ad strategy moving forward—one that targets younger generations.
Need more convincing? The Kardashians received one for Christmas last year.
While Volkswagen’s 54% YoY decrease in E.V. spending may appear to be troublesome, the company is doing anything but slowing down.
One could argue that the decrease is nothing more than a reset.
For starters, Volkswagen recently teased an upgrade to its successful ID.3—a model that quickly became a best-seller in several European countries, including China.
As the launch of the new ID.3 nears, advertisers for Volkswagen will almost certainly open their wallets, especially as they try to establish the company in the U.S.
Due to a combination of the uncertain Chinese auto market, the endangerment of natural-gas supplies for Germany, and the granting of tax credits for consumers, VW is embracing the American market.
Reinhard Fischer, strategy chief for Volkswagen Group of North America, said, “We’re diversifying a bit from China and a bit from Europe and building up the United States as our third leg of the market.”
As VW looks to carve out market share in the U.S.—a country already dominated by several brands—it’ll be interesting to see how its ad strategy evolves.
Through Q3 2022, 78% of VW’s ad dollars went to TV, while more than $3mm went to digital advertising, targeting sports enthusiasts through ESPN and YouTube Sports channels.
Top Electric Vehicle Charger Advertisers in 2022
There are more than 46k public E.V. charging stations in the U.S. and more than 115k individual charging ports.
Tesla owns many of these charging stations—there are more than 35k Superchargers in the U.S. Historically, those have only worked with Teslas—but that’s changing as Tesla opens its ecosystem to other companies, leaving a void that the likes of ChargePoint, Wallbox, EVGo, and Blink Charging have filled.
Through Q3, 40 vehicle charger advertisers responded by collectively increasing their spending by 217% YoY ($8.7mm vs. $2.8mm).
In Q1 and Q2, these advertisers increased their budgets by 375% and 611% YoY, respectively, but pulled back in Q3 (by 6% YoY), likely due to a similar decrease from car manufacturers, but also the end-of-August announcement asking California residents to avoid charging electric cars amid an intense heat wave.
Despite the relatively steep competition among the aforementioned E.V. charging companies, only one is really investing in advertising: Wallbox.
Through Q3, 86% of the spending from these advertisers came from Wallbox, which made a name for itself when it kicked off Q1 with a Super Bowl ad.
The increased spending from Wallbox comes during a period of rapid growth. Not only did the company achieve record revenues, it’s growing quickly in North America (revenue growth of 535%).
Also pushing that increase will be the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Javier Riaño, who assumed the leadership position on December 1, 2022.
What’s Next for Electric Vehicle Advertisers?
As popular as electric vehicles are today, they still make up just a fraction of the total automotive market. To put this into perspective, E.V. sales accounted for just 5.6% of the total market in Q2.
Still, the market is primed to boom as society remains committed to the environment.
Legacy automakers and startups will continue to pour big dollars into R&D and ongoing innovation to make these cars more accessible to the masses. In fact, worldwide electric vehicle investments are expected to grow to more than $626b by 2030.
Ford Motor Company is at the heart of this innovation. In September 2021, the industry giant announced plans to bring electric vehicles at scale to American customers with two new campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky.
More recently, Nikola, the electric and hydrogen truck technology company, reported better-than-expected third-quarter sales and is ramping up production.
As the E.V. world fights for market share in 2023 and beyond, nearly all major players will invest heavily in ad strategies.
That said, unless something extreme happens, Tesla won’t be one of them.
Instead, it seems likely that the E.V. giant will rely on Elon’s omnipresent status in the press to keep it top-of-mind.
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