Communication is a fine art in the age of social networks, easy and free access to information and “fact checking”. The announcement of something significant or important has almost become a kind of obligation. Free, but for major car groups, this ad effects and whether or not to catch these promises. Some have been very quick to back out of their word in the recent past, and often on the same topic… Of course, the SUV.
Ferrari: jacket reversal
Before Benedetto Vigna took control, Ferrari was headed by Luca di Montezemolo, who spoke less “techno” than his successor, the grunting father. It should be said that Vigna comes from STMicroelectronics and has worked on electronic controllers used by the general public, while di Montezemolo is from the Italian aristocracy and more or less always rubs shoulders with the world of Ferrari and especially its founder Enzo. Two opposite personalities at many points: this partly explains the turn. In 2011, Ferrari’s strongman announced that there would “never” be an electric Ferrari.
“You will never see an electric Ferrari because I don’t believe in this technology. I don’t think it works in reducing pollution or CO2 emissions, or even good for the environment“.
The rest, we know this: the first electric Ferrari will see the light of day by 2025. This isn’t the only failed promise that Ferrari has also ditched the SUV. The same Luca di Montezemolo explained that sedan and crossover bodies have no place in Ferrari. Missed Again: Purosangue will make concessions. A name that does not please the person it belongs to, that does not go his way: “I don’t like the name, it’s scary, it’s not to my taste… The company has become a mix between a holding company and a supercar maker, so shareholders are the number one priority and in fact they are very busy working on an electric car“. (Source).
A McLaren SUV? Never ! And yet
In 2018, McLaren’s design chief is on a media tour of SUVs: “McLaren builds cars to perform, not to clog the streets“From which act. Four years later, McLaren entered the Extreme E championship with a large electric SUV and then confirmed the arrival of the SUV. in the catalog for the end of the decade. The success of the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and even the Rolls-Royce Cullinan should inspire managers who also have to meet profitability constraints.
Rolls Royce is cautious
At Rolls-Royce, communication is always skillful. For a simple and good reason, RR finally releases a few new cars and each time the noble image of the brand is preserved. Therefore, there is no question of creating a wave. Leaders generally keep a low profile and do well in a more neutral and quiet tone that stays true to the Rolls-Royce DNA. Already in 2013, some managers explained that “never say never” about the SUV.. Perhaps they knew about the Cullinan project at the time, although it only hit the market in late 2018…
If there’s one champion of announcements that never materialize, it’s probably Tesla. Or rather, Elon Musk, a single communications agency and press relations department. Tesla’s CEO is smart, he knows how these announcements can boost the stock price and attract investors! Some of our American colleagues had fun charting Tesla’s broken promises. An electric car under $35,000, a fully autonomous car (announced in 2017!), a Roadster, a Cybetruck, and even an electric Semi truck due in 2019. Americans are still waiting for it.
Volvo and its “0 dead”
This is a very dangerous promise that surprised many when it was announced. In 2016, Volvo said that from 2020 all of its cars would no longer cause death. Understand by this that they will be so safe that it will be impossible for customers to lose their lives on board. A risky bet, especially since road deaths are sometimes brutal. Those responsible for the worst accidents are not necessarily those who lost their lives. Then, if we take the claim at face value, Knowing that statistics show that Volvo SUV drivers in the U.S. already have the highest number of fatalities in serious accidents in this segment? Probably not. In any case, Volvo was one of the first manufacturers to limit the speed of its cars to 180 km/h when leaving the factory. Does that mean 0 deaths? Of course not.
Are there charging stations everywhere?
Manufacturers are not the only ones making empty promises. Governments are also very good at this. Just two years ago: in October 2020, the government made a sensational announcement. By the end of 2021, there will be 100,000 charging stations in France. It was brave in the midst of the year of Covid and the global crisis. Maybe a little too much, plus the current figures from Avere, which provides monthly statistics on the health of the network, At the end of 2022, this figure shows that we are not even three quarters. Therefore, we are not yet close to seeing the color of the 100,000 terminals in France. As the electric car explodes in market share and on the road, the delay will likely be two years behind the original schedule.
At that time, Jean-Baptiste Jebbari was the Minister of Transport. Because of that, he was unable to serve, but has since left government to enter the world of the hydrogen car. And it has fewer stations.
BMW to blame!
This year, BMW, the non-manufacturer that participated most quickly and intensively in the zero-emission car, made a sharp small exit. Not BMW, but Frank Weber, head of automotive technical development within the group. In other words, the most important position in the design of future products.
In an interview with AD Dutch, Weber tailors clothes to his competitors. It has returned to the deadlines for the thermal finish at Audi and Mercedes, which will stop it … but only in Europe. A form of hypocrisy that “hurts” him! He brings up an interesting point: most brands with an international reputation will only partially fulfill the promises of the end of the combustion engine. It’s good that this time they make it clear from the beginning.