Electric vehicle adverts

Ok, time for a brief moment of funny. Will Ferrell never fails to get a laugh from me.

Did you watch? Ok, now we can finish with the post.

EVs face some marketing challenges in the U.S., to put it lightly. Motoring is so deeply ingrained in American culture & history that our brains have a hard time contemplating any alternative.

With the ad above, GM is attempting to turn this giant Titanic. They recently committed to 100% electric sales within just 14 years. Even so, they only have 1 EV model for sale currently. One!

The infrastructure we decided to build in the U.S. has made a motor vehicle essential for fulling participating in our economic and culture life over most of the U.S.When I got my license in rural Indiana in the 90’s, it was a significant step towards independence. (Although those trends are reversing somewhat, for multiple reasons).

Ok, this post is already getting away from me… focus…

EVs require a shift in expectations of the driving experience. Like almost every new technology, early generations of EVs were expensive and full of compromises. People who jumped in too early or without educating themselves were soured at the experience.

But as supply chains have matured and improvements compound year over year, the market expands to more and more users, and compromises fade or even turn into advantages, all depending on whether the user is a fleet, individual, etc.

Here was a 2018 effort at brand-neutral EV advertising (required from VW’s legal settlement)

Anyway, the rollout has proceeded at different paces around the world, hence the comparison with Norway.

Norway invested heavily in tax incentives & charging infrastructure for EVs. These seem to have overcome some of Norway’s climactic disadvantages (EV’s work even in the bitter cold, but their range can be severely reduced). On the other hand, Norway has a relative small population (less than Indiana) and is mostly urbanized. As a result, EVs accounted for nearly 9 in 10 car sales in December of 2020.


EVs ended the 2020 calendar year with 75% marketshare (the #2 selling model is an American brand, Tesla), which leading the world by far. As recently as 2013, this value was only 5%.

EV sales in Europe really exploded this year, doubling in volume and capturing a full 10% of the marketshare. Many new models were launched. The industry expects that the trend is heading in a single direction, it’s just a matter of the speed.

On this side of the pond, the market was pretty stagnant. Manufacturers have been slow to release new options here and seem to be slow-walking the transition; that said, there are a lot of models rolling out in 2021 and 2022. The U.S. EV marketshare remained around 2% last year, with the state of California leading at 8% (and many other states still under 1%).

Transport emissions have been the #1 source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. for several years now. While advances in engine efficiency continue, this work has been completely swamped/erased by an insatiable appetite for larger vehicles. Not only in the U.S., but around the world. It’s… depressing, and I try not to think about it.

President Biden has promised to convert the federal vehicle fleet (n=650,000) to electric as soon as possible, as well as to incentive the installation of a half million charging stations this decade. But… so far we’ve only had time for promises. Let’s hope these folks can figure things out.

So, is the U.S. going to overtake Norway in EV adoption anytime soon? Uh… no, sorry Will, I don’t see those numbers adding up. But if there’s anything that motivates Americans, it’s a competition, so here we go. Either way, thanks for the laugh Will!

This graph shows not EV marketshare of new sales, but cumulative ownership of all EVs per capita. The northern Indiana region is around 1.0 per 1000 people, growing a good 30-50% per year, but starting from a low number.

4 Replies to “Electric vehicle adverts”

  1. Dr. Dennis W. Brinkman

    Great summary of the current EV situation. Norway clearly has taken the big step, but for a small, confined country that’s a bit less of a challenge than the upper Midwest in the U.S. I love my Prius and its 55 mpg. My concern is driving range. We have made several trips to NC and back recently with Krista living there. I fill up once at a midway point and then when we arrive; it takes a few minutes. What are the logistics for an EV?
    Dennis Brinkman

    • Adam Thada Post author


      EVs shine for commuting, long-distance travel is perhaps the largest challenge.

      It has been mostly solved… by one manufacturer… if your budget allows. The Tesla Model 3 sedan (long range battery pack) should be able to travel from Swayzee to Raleigh with 3 stops, (8 min, 20 min, and 24 min). Bathroom breaks. Their network is impressive and nationwide; even so, you can’t “drive until the gas light comes on” and pull off at any intersection like we are used to with gas. Some awareness/planning involved. Doing the trip in a snowstorm would require an additional stop & slightly longer stops. The advantage is also that Tesla is updating there network on a regular basis, so traveling options actually improve over time. This car is $47K. Though if you sit down to do the total cost of ownership, it might be equivalent to something more like a $40K ICE vehicle. Standard battery pack is version is $38K. The same trip would require 6 stops of ~15 minutes (7-23) in duration. YMMV.

      I calculated the above with “A Better Route Planner”. Google “Tesla plan route” to test it as well (though I couldn’t get that site to work this morning).

      Getting real world feedback from owners is invaluable, as well as a test drive. I’ve only driven one once, but I know more about it than I do my own car 🙂


      • Adam Thada Post author

        Another option is a plug-in hybrid. So almost all of your local driving is electric, and you essentially only use gas when you leave the county. Then again, you have to carry around, and maintain, two drivetrains. Toyota has these pretty figured out though. Plug in Prius and (in very limited quantity) Plug in Rav4.


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