Tesla is leading auto industry towards affordable electric vehicles

Gabriel Rivera, Science & Technology Editor

Several months ago, Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company’s newest product, known as the Cybertruck.

The electric truck has a distinct jagged futuristic aesthetic and is Tesla’s newest addition to its growing inventory of electric vehicles that has become synonymous with the automotive company’s name.

Although the event generated negative criticism for the Cybertruck’s supposedly shatter-proof windows shattering, Tesla’s concept signaled a trend that has been common among many of the top names in the motor industry today.

Following Tesla’s lead, several car companies have undergone extensive research and development efforts to produce their own futuristic cars.

“Major automakers like GM, Ford and Volkswagen are investing billions of dollars to develop new electric vehicles,” write Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich in The New York Times. “More than 100 new plug-in models are expected to hit the United States over the next five years.”

This sudden widespread shift can be attributed to the growing concerns about climate change.

“Electric vehicles are also considered a crucial tool for tackling climate change, since they tend to produce less planet-warming emissions than gas-powered cars even when the electricity used to charge them is factored in,” Plumer and Popovich explain.

Despite the increasing need for electric vehicles and compliance of nearly all the major motor companies to create them, less than 330,000 electric models were sold in the United States over the last calendar year. Moreover, purchase of electric vehicles accounted for only 2% of the total cars sold in the United States.

This problem could be directly attributed to the fact that the auto industry as a whole has neglected to dedicate necessary funds to advertising campaigns for these electric models. As a result, most people are oblivious to the options they have regarding electric cars and a large portion of that aforementioned 2% of sales was made by Tesla due to the company’s brand recognition.

To solve this issue, it’s clear that automotive companies need to dedicate more of their marketing resources to the advertising of their electric models. During the first weekend of February, General Motors Co., Porsche AG and Audi AG took advantage of the large viewership that Super Bowl Sunday attracts and ran original commercials surrounding their new electric models.

Albeit this is a good first step for these companies, many manufacturers are still skeptical about the overall demand for electric vehicles in America.

In addition to a lack of advertising, the low number of sales could also be the result of high prices. Electric cars have gained notoriety as a luxury product.

However, at the same Cybertruck conference, representatives from Tesla explained that they are trying to change this narrative by pricing their new vehicle more affordably, so it can be accessible to a larger market.

“If we’re taking Tesla’s lofty promises at their word,” Stan Horaczek of Popular Science said, “the Cybertruck will start at just $39,900 when it officially launches.”

While the product won’t be released for another two years and the price is likely to be higher than the promised total, it demonstrates a potential movement companies will undertake to make prices for their electric models geared towards a more general market, thus increasing the consumer demand. Considering the immense positive impact widespread use of electric vehicles can potentially have, it is imperative for companies to begin prioritizing the research and development of these cars and trucks, along with advertising to make their electric vehicles accessible to and noticed by the working class.

However, as Sven Schuwirth of Audi acknowledged, auto companies are going to “need more than just one commercial at the Super Bowl.”

The advertisements on Sunday illustrated a shift in the message the auto companies were trying to convey in regard to their electric cars.

Rather than repeat the same narrative about the benefit of going electric regarding the climate, the commercials promoted the electric alternative as going along with the new modern and minimalist trend that has become popular through recent years.

While this message does sway the focus of the main benefit of electric vehicles, it will likely increase the probability for consumers to purchase electric vehicles, which in the long run could have an influential impact on the future of the planet.