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Clearly, the elephant in the room in this piece - as you point out Mark - is that Renault's current range isn't really up to scratch. The clio's been hit with an ugly stick, the Megane looks like a Korean Astra and the Laguna's just generally not a very good car... which is perhaps why their sales have fallen off a cliff. But as Robin says, I just don't think that this advertising series is particularly good. When you compare it to extremely sophisticated, aluring adverts from the likes of VW and Honda, it doesn't come up to scratch for me. Worse, I genuinely think it patronises people, and that the majority of people will just read it as (for want of a better word), guff. Certainly the response to it on twitter has been overwhelmingly negative. Better Place is one model, and all credit to Renault for the foresight in partnering with them - but it won't work everywhere or for everyone. Ultimately though, my point is this: most people right now *think* that they need - and want - to own a car. And right now, most people's perception of the electric car is that it's slow and limited in range. These people might be wrong - but it's the average man in the street's view. My worry for Renault - and others - is that they can build electric cars all they want, but how do they truly win over hearts and minds, how do they convince people that driving/buying an electric car is a good idea? I worry that if you simply leave it to 'traditional' media advertising, and the general public walking into dealerships, the electric car revolution could peter out before it's even got started. When you consider that a recent survey suggested that 78% of people in the UK could think of "nothing cool" about an electric car, and that knowledgable guys like Darryl Siry have criticised the likes of Nissan for overstating the range claims (in the real world) of the Leaf, I think there's a danger we're all sleep walking our way to thinking people will just jump into electric cars happy as Larry. They won't. They need to hear from their friends about how cool they are, and drive one themselves to feel the benefits. I think Nissan and Hertz's plan is one (albeit fairly small) element in helping to achieve this.
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Feb 23, 2010