Even Good Public Relations Cannot Help Electric Cars

2014-05-29 by Ronn Torossian

electric cars pr

In one of the more “interesting” public relations moves in recent history, the CEO of Fiat-Chrysler recently told the world not to buy his product. Yes, you read that right. The product in question was the Fiat 500e, and Sergio Marchionne is not real high on people purchasing one.

But… why, exactly??? According to Marchionne, even with its high price tag, Fiat has to sell the 500e at a loss. He is quoted as saying: “I hope you don’t buy it, because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000.” This latest admission by a major international manufacturer underscores why hybrids are doing fairly well, despite the higher price tags, but totally electric cars only account for 1% of the market, and sales are not heading in a positive direction.

At this point, automakers have a significant problem. People are vaguely aware of the positive impact of electric cars, but they are constantly bombarded by assumed negatives: size, scope, distance, cost, convenience (or lack thereof). There is one good reason for people to buy an electric car, and several reasons to opt, at least for the moment, for a hybrid instead.

While the above paragraph may not be the absolute reality that is the understanding in the marketplace, and, as long as automakers are losing money on them, they are not likely to do much to change perceptions. The lone exception is the Tesla. Yes, the car costs more than most other totally electric cars on the market, but it has two things that other electrics cannot boast – better performance, and, to be blunt, that car looks cool.

When people are planning to pay a premium, automakers cannot discount the “cool” factor.

And even great buzz and a positive Public Relations campaign cannot help the failing economics of electric cars.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 200 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities