Automotive: the rise in thinking green and acting green?

Going Green at the Paris Motor Show

The power of early adopters, consumer reviews and opinions and car showrooms remain key marketing  priorities for the automotive industry. In Germany, Spain, France and the UK, the showroom visit is the most popular source of information in a car purchase decision, according to TGI data from Kantar Media. The Paris Motor Show, held in Paris from 1 to 16 October and attended by over 200 brands and 1 million visitors, was no exception.

Although they have been present at the show for some years now, electric and hybrid cars were still prominent on most stands this time. Renault Trezor, Volkswagen I.D., Mercedes EQ, Toyota Prius, Opel Ampera, Hyundai Ionic, BMW 100% electric, Smart Fortwo electric drive, Porsche Panamera … driven by incentives, encouragement and legislation from the authorities, as well as a change in the public’s tastes, manufacturers have invested more in creativity and innovation to make their new models eco-friendly.. So then, is the notion of a switch in consumption trends towards ‘green’ cars real or illusory? 

Electric and Hybrid cars: is there a green trend worldwide?

Although it usually takes time to successfully introduce a brand in a competitive industry, Tesla stands out as an exception. The American manufacturer, creator of the electric sedan Model S and the  electric SUV Model X, this year made a grand entrance in the BrandZ™ ranking[1] and the Top 10 of the most powerful automotive brands in the world. After only 13 years of existence, the brand has taken the place of the German Volkswagen Group and its diesel vehicles.

This example is symptomatic of a basic trend in the global automotive market, that of the rise of the ‘green’ car. In Japan, there are now more electric charging stations than petrol stations. This makes the country the third largest market for the electric car after the USA and China.[2] Within Europe, in both Norway and France green cars are being incentivised through government policy. Consumers themselves are more sensitive to environmental discourse and less put off by the technical and economic challenges that having an electric car can bring..

In many European countries, environmental concerns are now a selling point to urban and high income customers ... but that’s not all. What is striking is the shift revealed by Kantar Media’s TGI data in purchase intention, which was still weak at the beginning of the year (UK: 2.17%, Germany: 1.39%, Spain: 1.35% France: 3.3%[3]), towards more and more Europeans becoming concerned about the pollution and damage caused by cars: more than 1 out of every 2 French, Spanish and German consumers have expressed concern. Another strong signal: being environmentally friendly has become an important criterion in choosing a car for 20% of French consumers, 12% of Germans and 10% of Britons.

Green Car

The realisation of this trend began to emerge in sales at the Paris Motor Show. ZOE sales, the electric model of Renault, caught up with those of the Clio, its bestseller.[4] Manufacturers have introduced many ‘green’ concept cars. These cars are clearly a success on social media, especially on Twitter. Electric and hybrid concept cars helped fuel conversations on the social network with – according to Kantar Media data – prominent numbers of mentions for Renault Trezor and Mercedes EQ, the Mercedes electric brand. Since October 1, the futuristic Trezor was cited nearly 10,000 times in more than 100 different countries, with the US, France, and Spain heading the list. The age of the ‘green’ car is well and truly here!

[3] Audience targeting based on declarative data (15-year-olds and older)

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