As fuel efficiency begins to rank ever more supreme in the eyes of new car buyers all over the world, General Motors seems to lack the marketing and mind-share advantages furnished by a powerful and well-known efficiency brand. Meanwhile, competitors ramp up their efficiency labels: Mazda has SkyActiv and Ford pimps EcoBoost; BMW’s Efficient Dynamics is gaining steam while VW’s BlueMotion is setting up for a global rollout. As it stands, The General — and its various vehicle brands — need a notable, celebrated, and influential efficiency brand to deliver a focused message to consumers.
“But what about Ecotec?”, you might ask. Good question. Ecotec is a great engine family label. But does it go far enough? We’d posit that its reach is limited — partly due to GM’s lack of directly and aggressively marketing the engine brand — even though it has been around for the better part of the last ten years. And herein lie several significant questions:
- Should GM create a new efficiency brand or promote Ecotec?
- If a new brand is created, should it be focused on an engine line/family or on an overall efficiency message (ala EcoBoost compared to SkyActiv and EfficientDynamics)?
- How should the new efficiency/engine brand be applied? Should Chevy have a different efficiency brand than say Buick, Cadillac, or GMC? How about Opel/Vauxhall?
If nothing else, these questions make for an interesting dialogue, but let us briefly explore the topic more thoroughly. For starters, an engine brand like Ford’s EcoBoost line of three-, four-, and six-cylinder engines has come to prominence quickly among the general public and — of course — automotive enthusiasts. But should the efficiency message stop at the engine? As it stands, efficiency found in General Motors vehicles is much more than an engine effort: you’ve got grille louvres, mild-hybrid systems, extended-range electric vehicles, stop-start systems, regenerative braking, and low rolling resistance tires — all in varying capacities and applications — across the entire GM vehicles range. So something like the Eco line of Chevy vehicles, which themselves contain an Ecotec engine, is a whole-hearted approach to efficiency than say Ford’s EcoBoost engine-only brand. In that regard, should GM make a bigger effort to promote a new efficiency brand and — by association — technology?
And what about GM’s portfolio of brands? Efficiency in luxury vehicles, for instance, is becoming increasingly important and the only thing Buick has are mild-hybrid models (eAssist) that don’t strike us as being very well-known by the public, albeit being new to the market. Therefore, an emphasized marketing and promotion effort by way of either a new brand or increased publicity seems like a good recipe.
Then we have BMW, Cadillac‘s chief rival. The Ultimate Driving Machine’s EfficientDynamics represents a combination of technologies, including direct injected engines, auto start/stop, brake force regeneration, electric power steering, air vents, gear shift (up) indicators, and low-rolling resistance tires that work in tandem to enhance fuel economy. Meanwhile, Cadillac doesn’t have any efficiency brand — hybrid or otherwise — that shepherds the brand’s efficiency. The Escalade Hybrid doesn’t count.
Ultimately, The General needs to create efficiency brands with viable value propositions (efficiency technologies) and then promote them like crazy. Otherwise, EcoBoost, SkyActiv, BlueMotion, and EfficientDynamics, as well as others, will come to bear efficiency exclusivity in the minds of consumers… and GM will be excluded from attaining a mindshare advantage.
Agreed? Tell us in the comments.