Last week there was widespread (and agency-fuelled) speculation about the meaning of the mysterious “230” campaign. AdAge managed to uncover that the source was General Motors, diagnosis but not much beyond that. Well, this morning Twitter is abuzz with the answer: 230 is the EPA-verified mileage per gallon for the new Chevy Volt. (Translation for the rest of civilization: that’s old fashioned for “97.78 kilometers per litre“). S0 5000 km (3107 miles) on a 50 litre tank? Not so fast…
Interesting Brand Strategy and positioning notes:
GM 2.0. Of course, this is a huge stake in the sand to demonstrate to the public that GM is plugged in, tuned in to the green energy karma, and turning a big corner (does the 11 stand for “Chapter?). The Chevrolet brand seems to be the flag bearer for this, although the VOLT is being branded as a stand-alone portfolio brand. But is this just a smoke screen to mask deeper problems at America’s favourite Welfare recipient? Many think so.
Big splash for a rock that hasn’t hit the water yet. This is a clever way for GM to build hype for a very expensive little car that won’t hit showrooms until November next year – possibly much later. 230 mpg is a clever hook to attach to the Volt, and a tough claim for competitors to beat – for now. But will it live up to the claim? That’s the big question. 230 sounds great, but if the public gets turned off by the fuzzy dice being used in the numbers, this could blow up in their face.
Note the *slightly* evasive language (“tentative” “draft” “expects”) around what 230 actually means, as GM says that the mileage is based on “draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology for labeling for plug-in electric vehicles”. Which means that they’re weighting the new standards to shorter trips with frequent plug-ins and more city driving. So no, you can’t drive across the country on a single tank. I’ve seen apples-to-apples estimates of 100+ mpg using the old system. Not as much “wow”, but easier to back up – and less likely to create backlash.
The car is being categorized as an “extended-range electric vehicle” using “flex-fuel” which are interesting plain language descriptors – when the acronym “EREV” and the term “E-Flex” that have been used to label both concepts from early in the development process. One wonders if the GM team is developing more trademarkable proprietary terms that will be unveiled closer to launch.
Chevrolet boilerplate – note the heavy “green-washing” of the language
Chevrolet is one of America ‘s best-known and best-selling automotive brands, and one of the fastest growing brands in the world. With fuel solutions that go from “gas-friendly to gas-free,” Chevy has nine models that get 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, and offers three hybrid models. More than 2.5 million Chevrolets that run on E85 biofuel have been sold. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and provides the best value in every segment in which it competes.