In time for the eco-centric Los Angeles Auto Show, market data firm Nielsen has come out with its finalists for best green marketers in the auto category. The firm says green advertising is actually moving the needle on purchase consideration, with consumers reporting 20% higher consideration levels versus 2011. In the lead for the top spot are Ford, Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet and Nissan, all finalists in the third annual ranking, the award for which will be presented at the Los Angeles show on Nov. 29. Auto manufacturers that ran any national TV ads with “green” themes between October 2011 and September 2012 were eligible for consideration, with the award based on how marketers raise awareness of their eco-friendly products and initiatives.
Nielsen, whose study is based on a custom survey; response data from six million viewers of national television advertising; and social media “buzz, says green features in vehicles are having more appeal to consumers, with 76% of then saying high fuel efficiency is something a vehicle must have to be considered for purchase. Arguably those parameters have more to do with a buyer's pocketbook than his or her conscience.
Toyota's Prius hybrid has traditionally led the segment, though it is part of a large Toyota recall. The brand has expanded over the past couple of years by adding a sub-compact variant, a plug-in, and a crossover version. Ford is preparing to roll out its own plug-in version of Fusion. General Motors, which says it is likely to sell 50,000 hybrids, plug-in electrics and eAssist mild hybrids this year just announced it will have up to 500,000 vehicles on the road with some form of electrification by 2017 with a focus on plug-in technology, including the Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Spark EV, the latter debuting next week in Los Angeles.
For its part, Ford says it has tripled to more than 200 the number of dealers certified to sell Ford plug-in electrified vehicles, the latest of which is the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid (joining the C-Max hybrid). Ford says 900 of its dealers are now either certified or enrolled for certification. Initial plans were for about 350 certified dealers by early next year. The automaker reports that the number of new vehicle shoppers considering plug-in hybrids is at 25%. The automaker says that by early next year it will be the first automaker to sell three plug-in electrified vehicles.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Forum this week in Washington, D.C., said a strategy for alternative vehicles must be part of future product planning, partly because of transportation's dependence on oil.