Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Green Truth About Electric Vehicles" 'Left, Right or Just in Between.'Got to be read. [Editor's note]

Friends this is worth reading. Greg Menken wrote this and here it is 'green as they can be and truthfully so...enjoy the polar bears and our pristine environments.

Of course electric vehicles are important and they are quite and fast in acceleration as well. A noise and sound bell should almost be required so pedestrians would become aware of these quite vehicles soon buzzing around every corner in White Rock, Hope, Bogota and Vancouver and New
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By Greg Menken Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Green Truth About Electric Vehicles

Polar bears and electric vehicles (EV's) -- perfect together. So thinks Nissan with the launch of its Nissan Leaf marketing campaign. Its first ads feature a polar bear marching down from the North Pole to give a new Leaf owner a hug.
Nissan is among the first car companies to launch a 100% electric vehicle, along with other launches in Japan, the U.S. and South Korea.

Will buying an EV really save the polar bears? The answer is obvious, but that hasn't stopped Nissan and other car companies from constructing their marketing campaigns around "saving the planet." Truth in advertising has always been stretched. It takes more than a pair of sneakers to make the NBA, and more than a bottle of cologne to get the girl.

All EV manufacturers describe their vehicles as "emissions free," which we all know is untrue. In fact, according the EPA, electricity's upstream emissions are three times that of gasoline for a midsize car. Until the grid goes completely green, EV's will not be emissions free.

Nissan's "polar bear" marketing has stirred up controversy on the left and right of the environmental debate. Eco-advocates applaud the EV option but are eager to point out the whole green truth. Climate change skeptics mock polar bear EV marketing as simply untrue -- even if global warming is man-made, goes the argument, buying an EV will not save the polar bears -- also true.

More importantly, the EPA issued new rules this year that will include upstream EV emissions in car ratings once a car maker surpasses 200,000 EV's sold. This will force a marketing strategy shift. But hitting that mark won't come soon, so car makers can continue their marketing course for the time being.

Either way, EV marketers will have to sell to divergent groups of consumers -- the greenies and the skeptics -- because they want to sell as many of these cars as possible, as with any of their products.

Green marketers have started their efforts by playing on the emotions and values of early adopters -- a common strategy for sneaker and cologne makers as well. I don't think any EV buyer really believes they're saving the polar bears, but that message resonates. Greenies want to feel like trailblazers (myself included), even if they know their efforts won't make a dent in climate change.

This strategy will do for some time, but if EV's are to go mainstream, it will require a strategy to convince the eco-skeptics as well. After the early adopters prove the technology, EV makers should shift to an economic message -- powering electric vehicles cost about half as much per mile (depending on many variables) compared to gasoline.

The economic message will carry EV's to the broader market. As the grid goes green, it won't be necessary, or effective, to tout the environmental benefits of the EV. Ultimately, all most people care about is their pocketbook.

Make the economic case for EV's and other clean technologies, and the environment will take care of itself. This is the whole green truth.

This commentary is insightful. I recommend it to others.

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Greg Menken serves as Vice President and Director of Sustainability at Beckerman Public Relations (, where he handles the firm's green and cleantech accounts. A LEED AP, Greg is also an active member of the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Reach him here.

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