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Climate Change and Changing Cars

Change is definitely in the air in more ways than one as automotive manufacturers increasingly develop zero emission car options and the cost of getting from A to B, is no longer just being calculated in terms of petrol or diesel consumption, but also in terms of cost to the environment.

Innovations such as ‘Hybrid’ cars that use both electricity and petrol, with the latter often used only to recharge the electric batteries, have been joined by pure-electric vehicle options that have no combustion engine.

Powered by a battery that can be plugged into the mains, their milage range when fully charged is likely to increase substantially in the future with new battery technology.

The other interesting innovative option are hydrogen fuel cell cars that are refuelled using compressed hydrogen. The car converts the hydrogen into electricity and the only emission is water which is so clean that it’s safe to drink.

California USA Leads The Way

The California Air Resources Board’s Zero Emission Vehicle program, requiring that automakers invest in clean technology, has been adopted by nine other states. Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The ZEV program is considered one of the nation’s most forward-looking climate policies, and a driving force behind an expanding car market with a current offer of over 30 zero emission models available to the public.

However, it seems that Donald Trump is not a big fan of the program.

The Reuters Detroit/Washington news bureau announced in August this year that California and 18 other states have pledged to fight a Trump administration proposal to lower fuel efficiency and emission standards for all vehicles.

The 19 defiant states are unanimous in their argument that they have an obligation and moral duty to protect the environment for future generations.

European Motorist Attitude Survey

A survey was undertaken this year by Ipsos Mori for The European Federation for Transport and Environment to examine attitudes of motorists towards zero emission cars in nine European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.

A third of those polled said it was highly likely that the next car they buy or lease will be electric or hydrogen-powered. The automotive industry is also reporting a growing interest in electric powered vehicles and forecasts a 20-25% sales increase by the end of 2025.

However, the three biggest European new car markets surveyed, revealed that in France 72% of the vehicle owning population think that carmakers are not doing enough to sell electric vehicles by attractive marketing, pricing, and offering enough choice. In Germany the figure was 68% and in Britain 67%.

The Renault–Nissan Alliance

In 1999 Renault and Nissan became strategic cross-sharing partners and in 2017, Mitsubishi became the third and equal partner of the Alliance agreement.

As of January 2018, the Tri-party Alliance is the world’s leading plug-in electric automotive manufacturing body. The Nissan Leaf is the top selling vehicle of the Alliance line-up and is also the world’s best-selling plug-in electric car in automotive history. By January this year more than 300,000 units had been sold worldwide.

In 2011 Renault and Nissan, through their respective agencies, Publicis in Paris and TBWA in Los Angeles, produced two almost identical commercials for their plug-in electric cars that became a popular industry talking point.

1. Renault ZE, The Electric Life

Advertising Agency: Publicis Conseil, Paris, France

Directed by Dougal Wilson, the commercial is a very amusing, tongue-in cheek take on visualising a world without electricity and solely reliant on fossil fuels for energy.

2. Nissan, Gas Powered Everything

Advertising Agency: TBWA Chiat Day, Los Angeles. USA

Directed by Dante Ariola, the commercial closely echoes the Renault ZE theme and entertainingly includes a ‘cheeky’ dig at Chevrolet by showing a driver fueling up a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

The first generation Volt, after travelling a mere 50 miles,

required its internal combustion engine to power an electric generator to extend the vehicle’s range.

3. Nissan Leaf, Polar Bear

Advertising Agency: TBWA Chiat Day, Los Angeles, USA

Superbly directed by Daniel Kleinman, with visual effects by VFX Supervisor Dan Sanders of The Moving Picture Company, the commercial was filmed on location in Vancouver with a real polar bear named Aggy.

Robert Downey, Jr. is the narrator of this emotive story that reveals the connection between Aggy’s journey and Nissan Leaf’s 100% electric car.

The central theme of the commercial is Nissan’s appeal to viewers to acknowledge that human activities have had detrimental effect on the environment, and to embrace the moral responsibility of thinking ‘globally and acting locally’.

The pathos of the polar bear’s rhetorical journey was heartfelt by many viewers and received wide coverage across all news broadcast, social and online media.

The commercial was lauded by environmentalists and millions of viewers globally, but some global warming denialists and climate change skeptics, perhaps predictably, thought the commercial was emotively manipulative, facile and naively alarmist.

4. Hyundai Nexo, Because of You

Advertising Agency: Jung von Matt/Neckar, Stuttgard, Germany

Directed by Daniel Börjesson, the commercial illustrates the Hyundai Company’s vision of a clean, free and connected future.

The story highlights how the new Nexo’s features have been thoughtfully designed to benefit numerous daily lives and not just that of the driver.

The Nexo is a zero emission fuel cell vehicle with a 52.2-litre capacity Hydrogen fuel tank that takes 5 minutes to fill for a 666 km long journey.

5. VW Golf GTE, The Button

Advertising Agency: adam&eve/DDB, London

Directed by Gary Freedman, the commercial for the Golf GTE Hybrid vehicle, features an entertaining pastiche of powerfully evil, film genre ‘baddies’.

The commercial ends with a call to Golf drivers to be responsible hybrid power users and the ‘good guys’ on the road

6. Kia Soul, Fully Charged

Advertising Agency: David & Goliath, Los Angeles

Kia’s life-size hamster characters have become a remarkable pop-culture phenomenon.

To the delight of millions of Soul Hamster fans, the launch of Kia Soul’s all electric EV saw the introduction of some ultra cool female counterparts in this entertaining phantasy.

Directed by Colin Jeffery, the high production value commercial about a charmingly absurd laboratory experiment plays out against a soundtrack of ‘Animals’ by Maroon 5 and sung by Adam Levine.

7. Jaguar I-Pace, Monaco 3 am

Advertising Agency Spark44, London

Officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year, the Jaguar I-Pace Performance SUV is the company’s first fully electric vehicle.

The launch commercial, directed by Henry-Alex Rubin, tracks racing driver Mitch Evans at 3 am negotiating the famous Monaco Grand Prix street circuit’s twists and tight turns.

He sneaks past late night revelers, sleeping yacht crews, Jaguar’s Formula E mechanics hard at work in the garage, and with the I-Pace’s collision avoidance systems, safely maneuvering around street-sweeping trucks.

The soundtrack features a song by James Saunders specially written and composed for the commercial.

The Future Is Electric

All the major car brands have zero-emission models that are either already on sale, in production for 2019, or prototypes being tested for a market launch in 2020.

The big challenges for zero- emission automotive manufacturers are the two key viability factors of battery capacity allowing range, and length of charging times.

As far as travelling distance is concerned, Elon Musk’s Tesla S back in 2012 offered US motorists a 500km-plus range on his fully charged four-seater sports car that 6 years later, no car brand has yet managed to equal.

The new Audi E-Tron may be the first car to come close with a projected 450 to 480km battery capacity range.

8. Audi E-Tron, Unleashed

Advertising Agency: Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, USA

Directed by Mark Jenkinson, the commercial to announce that Audi has gone electric, was launched during this year’s Emmy Award show that recognises excellence in the television industry.

It is a powerful teaser commercial for the all-electric E-Tron that will be only be fully revealed when it goes on sale next year and it certainly has provocatively ‘teased’ the expectant interest of many car enthusiasts globally.

9. Porche E-Performance, Not The Beginning

Agency: Grabarz und Partner, Hamburg, Germany

Directed by Anders Jedenfors, the commercial reveals what Porche fans can expect next year with the company’s first e-performance vehicle line-up that will include their E Cross Turisimo that was unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

A major feature of the upcoming e-performance models will be the quick charging time. Equipped with 800 volt batteries, attaining an 80% full mark requires only 15 minutes of charging.

The aim of Porsche’s E-Mission Concept is the development of a progressive program to have one third of the performance thoroughbreds in its stable, to be 100% electrically and optimally horse-powered by 2022.