Automakers are tapping nostalgia to promote electric cars — and it’s working
Automakers around the world have spent the last few years promoting hybrid and electric drivetrain technology in order to show how they’re thinking about the future. But lately, some of them are looking back to the past to promote these new technologies.
Demand for electrified versions of classic cars is already strong enough that there’s a growing market for third-party conversions. Owners of classic Volkswagens, Range Rovers, and even Porsches might be surprised to know they already have a few options for making the switch, though the conversions (and the cars themselves) are not cheap.
Tapping nostalgia is a tried and true move as a new technology starts to take hold. After the camera started its shift to digital image sensors, more than one company saw the opportunity to breathe new life into popular old designs. Now, some of the most striking digital cameras in the world are ones that carry more classic design elements, even while the tech inside is as new as can be.
With more than a century’s worth of cars in the books, there’s almost no end to the list of classics that could find new life with an electric powertrain — even if it’s just as part of a limited run.
But whether automakers embrace selling electrified versions of older cars or not, don’t be surprised if they continue to exploit nostalgia as the industry shifts away from the internal combustion engine. With political and environmental pressures pushing the industry toward electric technology, and adoption still fairly low, these companies figure they can sell the future by playing customers the greatest hits. If the reaction of the crowds at Pebble Beach — and really, most of the past year’s auto shows — are any indication, it’s a strategy that car fans are more than happy to oblige.