Why Hasn’t Hollywood Embraced The Electric Car?

Credit to Author: Guest Contributor| Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:00:24 +0000

Published on August 22nd, 2019 | by Guest Contributor

August 22nd, 2019 by  

Originally published on EVANNEX.

From James Dean’s Mercury coupe in Rebel Without a Cause to Burt Reynolds’s Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit to Jason Statham’s McLaren in the new Fast and Furious film, cars have been stars in many a Hollywood classic. However, as  points out, electric cars are still waiting for their big-screen breakthrough.

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Above: A Tesla Model 3 parks directly in front of some “Hollywood” graffiti art, and the photographer writes, “The sexiest model in Hollywood I’ve ever seen.” (Instagram: )

Of course, . The Roadster was briefly seen on screen in the first Iron Man film, and Elon Musk made a cameo appearance in the second (other onscreen Elon sightings include an episode of The Big Bang Theory and the 2016 film Why Him?).

Superheroes have always been early adopters. A Model X was featured in an episode of The Flash, and Iron Man drove an Audi e-tron in Avengers: Endgame. A Model X was also driven by one of the evil founders of dystopian Gilead in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

However, when ordinary folks drive EVs on the big screen or the small, they’re usually figures of fun. In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s Prius was presented as yet another symbol of his grandfatherly unhipness. In the series Grace and Frankie, Lily Tomlin’s character, a kale-eating superannuated hippie chick, drives a LEAF. On the other hand, Emma Stone was driving a Prius in La La Land. The punchline: everyone else in Los Angeles was driving one too.

2018 California EV sales reached 7.8%, and 46.8% of US EV Sales. Chart by Loren McDonald, EVAdoption.

Why don’t we see more cool EVs in movies? The short answer: for the same reason we don’t see much advertising for EVs. These days, a particular car doesn’t appear in a movie or a hit TV show just because the director wants it there. “Product placements” are basically ads, which the automakers pay for. Tesla doesn’t pay for advertising (), and the other brands that have EVs aren’t keen to advertise them, for reasons that we’ve already .

As Kyle LaHucik explains in the  piece, the cars automakers want to be seen in movies are their halo sports cars and their money-spinning pickup trucks. Camaros were flying off the lots the summer they were featured in the Transformers movie franchise (ironically, GM was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time). “More recently, the company reached out to a diverse audience by placing its GMC Sierra pickup in the revamp of the hit show Queer Eye,” LaHucik writes.

In order to comply with emissions regulations, most of the legacy automakers are (more or less grudgingly) producing EVs, but by most accounts,  on them. “The business 101 would be that you’re making a ton of money on your large pickup trucks and your large SUVs, so the dollar you put into marketing on those pays back more than the dollar you put into the EVs that you’re losing money on,” Mark Wakefield, a consultant with AlixPartners, told Bloomberg.

Above: Arnold Schwarzenegger does a tongue-in-cheek skit promoting gas-powered cars instead of EVs (YouTube: )

However, there’s one Hollywood superstar who’s a fan of EVs, and is doing his best to get them some onscreen respect. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently made , which is running . As the stereotypical car salesman Howard Kleiner, Noldi tries to talk potential buyers out of buying electric models (just the way real car salesmen do, only funnier), while a hidden camera captures their reactions. “On behalf of big oil, I want to thank you all for choosing muscle cars that use gasoline,” says Kleiner, sporting a Hawaiian shirt and a porno-movie mustache. “Long live American muscles!” 

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