Thursday, August 22, 2013

Five EV/Hybrid Product Marketing Strategies

Demand for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EVs) is growing at an ever increasing rate. A Mintel study indicated that sales of hybrids and EVs were up 73 percent in 2012. They forecasted that the number of hybrid and Evs will reach 535,000 units by the end of 2013, which represents a 14 percent increase in sales over 2012. By 2017, Mintel predicts that sales of hybrid and EVs will reach 850,000 units, representing five percent of the total US car market.

Automotive companies are now vying for attention in an increasingly competitive space. Here are five EV product offerings and the associated marketing strategies of the five different automakers.

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid: Does it All

Even companies that have no history of producing electric vehicles are getting in on the action. Subaru is offering a car that tries to do it all. At the New York International Auto Show Japanese car maker Subaru unveiled its first-ever production hybrid vehicle. The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is meant to be at home in both the city and the country. As crossover, this is an SUV that is also ideal for urban transport. The vehicle will arrive in Subaru dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2013. This hybrid combines a 2.0-liter Subaru engine boxer with a 13.4-hp electric motor that’s integrated into the transmission.

Scion iQ-EV: Tease

Scion is a brand of vehicles produced by Toyota for the North American youth market. Its product strategy can best be described as a tease. The 2013 Scion iQ-EV is ranked number one according to the EPA’s annual list of fuel efficient vehicles. With a rating of 121 MPGe combined (138 city and 105 highway), the iQ-EV is most fuel efficient production vehicle in the world. However it is only a showpiece as a mere 100 units are scheduled to be build, and none of these will be publicly available.

Fiat 500e: Efficiency Cost and Sexy

Fiat is an Italian company with a long history. The 2013 Fiat 500e electric car has been met with great enthusiasm, selling out very quickly. The electric 500 can be leased for $199 a month. The EPA rated the Fiat 500e at 108 MPGe highway. The car boasts low tailpipe emissions and it will reportedly go 87 miles on a full battery charge. It also has a reputation of being fun to drive. Fiat 500e's unique Italian style and fuel efficiency prompted Tim Kuniskis, Head of FIAT Brand North America to call the car “environmentally sexy."

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Mileage and Price

Mitsubishi is another Japanese company that has opted for a strategy based on radical efficiency and ultra low cost. The very affordable and highly efficient Mitsubishi i-MiEV has a 64-mile range, and it can be plugged-in almost anywhere. What is most astounding about the tiny i-MiEV is not the fact that it offers 112 MPGe, but the fact that it can cost as little as $69 per month. The vehicle is anything but overpowered with an electric motor rated at 47 kilowatts, or 63 horsepower. Nonetheless, the i-MiEV five-door hatchback is an excellent, efficient, inexpensive vehicle for an urban environment.

VIA Motors: Capitalizing on Demand and Technological Novelty

Automotive upstart, US based VIA motors may have the best business strategy. They are using a relatively unique technological configuration to build a popular vehicle with pent up demand demand. VIA Motors unveiled the first ever " extended-range" pickup with batteries, electric motors and a backup gas engine. The pickup sports a 4.3-liter V-6 gas engine, which is used only when the batteries need charging. It is coupled with a 150-kilowatt electric generator. The most distinctive feature of this pickup, is its ultra lightweight engine which weighs only 108-pounds. In addition to the pickup, VIA Motors also makes extended-range SUVs and vans.

The future of vehicles is clear to Bob Lutz, a member of VIA Motors' board and the former General Motors vice chair often referred to as the father of the Chevy Volt. He said, "Once you electrify, you will never go back."

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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