LOS ANGELES — Recently while watching the World Series on Fox, I happened upon a commercial for Chevrolet. Crazy, right, watching television and sitting through a commercial? Anyway, Chevrolet was advertising five new EVs, complete with hip, happy drivers belonging to the most advantageous age bracket jamming to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” a song which I suppose is hip despite coming out in 1987? It’s a decent ad, I can see people getting excited about all these sweet Chevy EVs.
Trouble is, you can’t actually buy three of those five Chevy EVs everywhere. Or anywhere. The Chevrolet Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV are all future product, and not exactly near-future, either. The Blazer EV is slated for summer 2023, the Equinox for fall 2023 and the Silverado EV all the way in the summer of 2024, but given ongoing supply shortages and the potential for more given the increasing hunger for battery resources, would anyone be surprised if schedules get bumped back? Also, the rollouts for those vehicles will come gradually, much like the Hummer EV is. For instance, the Blazer EV SS will arrive a few months later than the LT and RS. Then there’s the matter of demand and waiting lists – even if these sweet Chevy EVs literally arrive at dealerships when promised, you may be waiting even longer for them.
Now, I must now say that there’s nothing really nefarious going on here. It’s just historically very unusual. Automotive media relations representatives are basically programmed to automatically answer “We do not comment on future product” when asked about future product. It’s kind of a running joke at this point. Yet here is GM letting the cat out of the bag on national television years before the cars in question are released with initial press releases happening even earlier back in January for the Silverado and September for the Blazer and Equinox. All three were proudly displayed this week at the L.A. Auto Show, as you can see below.
GM is not alone here, either. Stellantis let the world know about the Dodge Charger Daytona electric super coupe and Jeep Recon way earlier that usual. True, they are technically concepts, but the designs quite obviously look close to production ready. These aren’t fanciful concepts with gullwing doors, camera mirrors and seats that spin 360 degrees. Honda has similarly let the cat out of the bag with its Prologue, a mechanical twin of the Blazer, which totally goes against the company’s usual product cadence. It’ll typically release images and information about a car in the first half of the year and it’ll be on sale in the second half.
So what’s going on here? My main theory is Tesla fundamentally changed the game. It was the first to totally do things differently by openly boasting about future product years before it would come to fruition. We first heard about the next-generation Tesla Roadster back in November of 2017, while the Cybertruck first stunned the world back in 2019. Needless to say, neither is presently for sale. I’m not going to bother hypothesizing about Tesla’s reasons for doing this (OK, maybe a little, cough, stock price), but it certainly has served as a way to keep brand interest stoked despite a product lineup that isn’t turned over, changed and augmented with the same frequency as other brands. Apparently Tesla doesn’t see a problem with telling its competitors about what’s coming down its future pipeline (or, at least, thinks the tradeoff is worth it).
I think this is the key element here. Consumers seem to be accepting the possibility of buying an electric car far quicker than manufacturers are able to develop and build them. The timing is off. As such, car brands need to get their names out there and their foots in the door in order to let would-be EV customers know that “don’t worry, (insert brand name) is totally working on electric cars!” The idea of Chevrolet as a maker of EVs is therefore put into the public conscience, even if they can’t yet buy all the cars advertised. And no, I’m not forgetting about the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV. It’s American car buyers who have forgotten about it, or rather, never knew about it in the first place. This ad should at least put the Bolt back in front of their faces, even if folks are understandably excited about the future models.
It’ll be interesting to see how long this shift in marketing tactics survives as more EVs are built, sold and marketed. It’ll also be interesting to hear, admittedly in many years, whether rival car companies changed course on a certain vehicle after seeing what is essentially an advanced preview of a competitor vehicle. Perhaps Ford is inspired to create or maybe alter a future electric Mustang after seeing the Charger Daytona, or maybe Ram switches things up after getting so much info about the Silverado EV more than two years ahead of it going on sale. Those are stories I look forward to sniffing out in the future … when hopefully all these sweet EVs actually are on sale.