For as long as we can remember, automakers — or rather their ad agencies — have struggled to figure out exactly how to sell electric cars to the public. Indeed, this incomprehensible mental block that seemed to convince ad agencies that electric cars needed to be sold differently to other cars resulted in some of the weirdest and most cringe-worthy car ads in history. There was the notorious GM EV1 ad, the equally confusing Toyota RAV4 EV ad, Nissan’s LEAF Polar Bear ad and of course, the travesty that was the Chevrolet Volt Dance.
But while electric car adverts have got a whole lot better over the past few years, focusing less on the novelty of electricity as a fuel source and more on the driving experience, electric car ads still forget to mention how much fun electric cars are to drive when compared to gasoline models. And when such adverts do tackle the instant torque and road handling benefits that electric cars have over gasoline models, the automaker carefully ensure the rest of its lineup is kept out of the picture.
The fear, we’d guess, is that even after years of being available, automakers and their ad executives fear that advertising electric vehicles as being too much fun would be detrimental to sales of other vehicles. Yet General Motor’s European arm Opel has just released a new ad for the upcoming Opel Ampera-e (the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s European twin) which throws caution to the wind and advertises the upcoming plug-in car in a way that we’ve never seen before: comparing its performance to not only other cars but other Opel-brand cars.
As our friends at GreenCarReports note, the short 35-second YouTube ad (which was published at the end of last month) focuses on the Opel Ampera-e’s quick acceleration from standstill by pitting it against some of the sportiest of Opel’s vehicles, including fully-race prepared versions of the Adam city car (Adam R2) and the Astra compact (Astra TCR) as well as high-end OPC production versions of the Opel Subcompact and Insignia full-size hatchback.
Despite its sub 7-second 0-60 time, it’s worth mentioning here that the Opel Ampera-e, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV it shares its DNA with, would have a tough time out performing the race-prepared cars on a full-blown drag strip. But for the purposes of this ad, GM’s European arm focused on the Ampera-e’s performance over the first 30 meters (98 feet). And in that situation, the Ampera-e easily won over its gasoline-powered siblings, finishing a good two car lengths in front of the Opel Astra TCR, nearly three car lengths above the Opel Adam R2, and nearly four car lengths in front of the slowest car, the Opel Insignia OPC.
Finishing with the simple message “Fun to Drive!” the ad fades to black and leaves the viewer to make up their own conclusions about the future of the electric-powered city car, presumably leaving no doubt in the mind of the reader that if straight line stoplight acceleration around town is your thing, then the Opel Ampera-e is for you.
How did a production electric car with a top speed of 93 mph win so dramatically? The answer of course is that the Opel Ampera-e uses the same 150 kilowatt motor found in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which produces 266 pound-feet of torque from standstill and can accelerate from 0-31 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Admittedly, that’s slower than the Tesla Model S (the highest-performance Tesla Model S P100D takes 2.5 seconds to hit twice that speed) but when it comes to mass-market, affordable production electric cars, the Bolt EV — and the Ampera-e — should be fast enough for most consumers.
What’s also curious here is that this video has been released ahead of the official reveal of the 2017 Opel Ampera-e at the Paris Motor Show later this month. Since the general shape of the Opel Ampera-e is known (it will share the majority of its body panels with the Bolt EV) we suspect Opel’s decision to highlight the Ampera-e’s performance is intended to get as many people to Paris as possible to see its first long-range electric car.
What we don’t know yet of course, is what the price and final specifications for European customers will be. When we do, we’ll share it with you here.
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