Car ads: Efficiency on the brain

The 2013 Ford Fusion
The 2013 Ford Fusion

If ads are any reflection of what’s on Americans’ minds, the marketing campaigns for the latest crop of cars send an encouraging message. Amid high gasoline prices and concerns over the sluggish growth of the economy, many automobile ads have begun to focus on one thing — fuel efficiency. For example, in a new print ad Ford emphasizes that the Fusion gets 37 miles on the highway, but makes no mention of the car’s interior or handling.

Increasing fuel efficiency has been one of the industry’s most pressing concerns, especially following the Obama administration’s 2012 mandate that cars and light trucks average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This has put considerable pressure on auto manufacturers to build vehicles that do more with less gas.

Perhaps not coincidentally, US car sales are up. In July, JD Power & Associates and LMC Automotive forecasted that sales could reach 15.6 million units for 2013, the highest rate since before the recession. Fuel-efficient vehicles account for a large amount of this growth. It wasn’t long ago that ads touted mega-SUVs as a way to outdo the neighbors and intimidate other drivers. But $4 per gallon gas has a way of concentrating the mind.