Ford and VW offer testing of new electric vehicles to boost sales of Mach-E and ID.4 – .

Ford and VW offer testing of new electric vehicles to boost sales of Mach-E and ID.4 – .

Attendees of the Chicago Auto Show on July 15, 2021 board a Ford Mustang Mach-E for a test drive in the electric crossover outside the McCormick Place Convention Center.
Michael Wayland / CNBC
CHICAGO – Jim Nierman screams in excitement as he steps out of an electric Mustang Mach-E crossover after a test drive at the Chicago Auto Show.
“Oh my God!… I’ve driven a lot of electric cars and that’s good,” said the high school auto shop teacher. “It was like a rocket. “

Nierman, 54, is among tens of thousands of people expected at the five-day event, which is the country’s first major auto show since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020.

This is not your typical Chicago auto show. It’s about half the size and time of a traditional salon, but automakers like Ford Motor, Volkswagen and others are trying to make the most of it. This includes the presentation of new electric vehicles.

In addition to displaying vehicles inside the McCormick Place Convention Center, automakers offer test drives and rides in new electric vehicles. Automotive executives believe such experiential marketing efforts are one of the key first steps in increasing adoption of electric vehicles.

“A lot of consumers haven’t had this opportunity because of Covid,” said Suzy Deering, Ford’s chief marketing officer, of the Mach-E experience. “With Mach-E, people are blown away. “

Ford has been among the automakers most affected by vehicle launches, including the Mach-E, during the pandemic. A continuing shortage of semiconductor chips has also drained many dealer lots, making it difficult for consumers to experience new vehicles.
Deering said bringing consumers into the Mach-E and allowing them to see new electric vehicles like the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup, which is slated to go on sale next year, is essential for people understand that electric vehicles are real, not science projects. .

“There are some misconceptions about electric vehicles and there is also, frankly, no perception, is there? That people just don’t understand, ”Deering said. “It’s a really important piece for us. “

“The buttocks in the seats”

Auto shows are important for automakers to show off their latest vehicles and, more importantly, to get “butt in the seats” – an old adage for the best way to sell cars.

“Auto shows are important for consumers because they can buy one vehicle for another under the same roof without any pressure on sales,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive. “It’s also important to have that butt in the seats because overall today’s vehicles are all pretty good, so it depends on their perception of the brand but also how the vehicle looks to them. fits. “

The Volkswagen Test Drive booth on July 15, 2021 at the Chicago Auto Show outside the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Volkswagen of America chief marketing officer Kimberly Gardiner said it was “super important” to allow consumers to get into new electric vehicles and “imagine themselves driving one.”

VW offers drives in four of its newest vehicles, including the electric ID.4, which went on sale this year. VW hosted around 250 driving events across the country for the new electric vehicle from March through June.

“We are at this big time when more and more consumers want to understand and learn what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle,” said Deering.

Nearly 16,000 people of all ages have participated in national programs, according to VW.

The ID.4 and Mach-E are among a handful of plug-in vehicles, including all-electrics and hybrids, to offer rides or trips to Chicago auto shows. Others include the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the Kia Niro EV, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV.

Bronco vs. Wrangler

Electric vehicles aside, Ford will take on Jeep over off-road courses at the Chicago Auto Show.
At the Chicago Auto Show, Ford is launching a 30,000 square foot off-road obstacle course it calls the “Built Wild Bronco” mountain experience,

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Ford launched a new “Built Wild” exterior obstacle course for its Bronco SUV at the event, which it plans to use at future shows. Jeep has been offering rides in its “Jeep Camp” at such events for 17 years.

“It’s one of the coolest things here,” said Henry Lata, 15, after riding a Jeep Gladiator Mojave during the course. ” I like cars. “

Both courses feature large metal hills and obstacles highlighting the capabilities of the vehicles.

“We can show what our vehicles can do,” said Jim Morrison, Jeep’s North American operations manager. “We’ve seen competitors come and go, but one of the things we love is when they open the door, people rush over to Camp Jeep. “

Henry Lata, 15 (left) and Sarah Lata, 45 (middle) ride in a Jeep Gladiator Mojave van with a professional driver through an indoor obstacle course called ‘Camp Jeep’ at the Paris Auto Show. Chicago.

Michael Wayland / CNBC


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