For automakers, this year’s Super Bowl might as well be called the Electric Bowl.
Startup electric vehicle brand Polestar today confirmed it will run an ad in the game that is already filled with spots from Kia, BMW, General Motors and Nissan—which are all pitching EVs with expensive celebrity-filled ads. There is even an electric vehicle charger maker in the game: Wallbox, whose Big Game ad doubles as its first-ever TV commercial in the U.S.
Never before have so many auto brands spent so much money advertising vehicles with such small market share—EVs only accounted for 2.6% of new vehicle sales last year in the U.S., according to Edmunds. But the Super Bowl marketing onslaught is indicative of a tipping point in the EV sector, which is poised to finally begin creeping into the mainstream after years of hype. Automakers have billions of dollars riding on it. GM alone has said it plans to pour $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicle development through 2025, while debuting 30 new EVs globally, with two-thirds available in North America.
With that kind of investment, brands must start generating demand—lots of it. And there is no bigger stage to do that than the Super Bowl, which draws about 100 million American viewers from all corners of the country.
'The race is far from over'
Of course, Tesla—the biggest EV player with an estimated 65% U.S. market share—scoffs at such paid advertising, as it continues to set sales records fueled by word-of-mouth marketing often powered by its attention-seeking CEO, Elon Musk. But traditional automakers and startups see an opening, and marketing will play a critical role as they seek to dethrone Musk.
“Despite Tesla's significant head start on the competition, the race is far from over,” Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds, said in an email interview. “Automakers are eager to imprint their EV messages on the mind of the American consumer while there is ample market share to be earned, and there are still few better places to commence an awareness campaign than the Super Bowl.”
Edmunds, which provides car shopping information to consumers, forecasts the EV market to grow to 4% this year.