The Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise takes place on the third Saturday of August every year. This year (2011) GM made a huge presence in the parade with a “silent legion” of Chevy Volt’s participating, marking not only the Dream Cruise but Chevrolet’s Centennial, their 100th year of existence. The event was obviously a public relations show and it included appearances by two NASCAR drivers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson who apparently acted as parade marshalls waving green flags.
There’s an adage in racing which goes “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” which refers to a kind of trickle-down effect between race vehicles and the ones we drive for every day errands. There’s a chain of influence starting with the race fans who buy vehicles that win races. They, in turn, influence purcases made their friends, who influence others, and so on until the chain of influence eventually reaches the car Grandma drives to church on Sundays.
The video GM produced has Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon saying “I’m an owner,” “I love the technology,” and “then when you step on the accelerator, it takes off, and it puts you back in the seat, it’s a great feeling”. It ends with Johnson talking about how “this step” (building the Volt) will provoke thought and change, to improve what we’re doing to the world.
The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid, or as GM prefers “extended range electric vehicle,” which can drive in electric-only mode for about 40 miles before switching to a gasoline powered hybrid mode. (see An initial look at the Chevy Volt; It’s a pretty good car)
Let’s ponder the question of why would GM hire a pair of NASCAR drivers to endorse the Volt. Typically environmentally minded people look down on racing as a waste of energy and resources. Obviously, they’re reaching out a different audience with these NASCAR drivers. Saying that it’s a “great feeling” when it (the Volt) “puts you back in the seat” appeals to a different demographic segment than the stereotypical environmentally minded person. For vehicle electrification to significantly reduce the negative environmental impact of driving cars, manufacturers must find ways to package and sell electrification to more than just the environmentally minded people. The environmentally minded people are already sold on this, so what about everyone else? Perhaps these NASCAR drivers can influence a few of their fans?
Chevrolet Volt Homecoming Parade
Faces of GM – NASCAR Stars on their Volts at Chevy Volt Homecoming Parade
JIMMIE JOHNSON, JEFF GORDON JOIN CHEVROLET AT THE 2011 WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE