How GM Will Use Fear To Sell You A Chevy Volt

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General Motors has asked for a U.S. trademark on the phrase "range anxiety," for the purpose of "promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities." Get ready for GM to question whether you can trust your family in an all-electric car.

The application filed with the U.S. trademark office in July suggests GM wants every marketing weapon it can find when it finally starts selling the Jesus Car Chevrolet Volt — GM's Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV), basically a plug-in electric with a gas engine to charge the battery when needed — in a couple of months. That includes range anxiety — a fear of driving too far from your power plug.


"It's something we call ‘range anxiety,' and it's real," said Joel Ewanick, GM's head of U.S. marketing. "That's something we need to be very aware of when we market this car. We're going to position this as a car first and electric second... people do not want to be stranded on the way home from work."

While a tagline of "Chevy Volt — all of the benefits of a pure EV without the worry it will quit on you and leave you stranded to die on the side of the road like those other battery-powered crapcans" may be a little far-fetched, Ewanick is right that it's a problem all-electric vehicles will encounter. Car and Driver's K.C. Colwell found that out the hard way when he was stranded driving a Tesla Roadster coming back from a round-trip 180-mile drive from Ann Arbor, MI to Saginaw, MI.

The general public appear to agree with Ewanick and Colwell. Fear actually ranks as the major drawback of pure electric vehicles among possible buyers. Now it looks like your fear will be the Chevy Volt's largest tactical advantage over the less-expensive Nissan Leaf and future all-electric competitors.