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.