For a long time, car manufacturers have dabbled in electric cars, with limited success. The sales of electric cars over the past few years, altogether, number perhaps somewhere in the thousands. In comparison, Lexus sold 344,000 cars in the US in 2015, while Mazda sold 319,000 in the same time period. Although sales of normal cars per year easily trump electric car sales, they usually hold steady somewhere around the 300,000 mark.
A relative newcomer to the market, Tesla, had 276,000 people sign-up to buy its newest all-electric Model 3 sedan. In two days. Not two years, days. Within a week, that number hit 325,000. And that’s just for pre-orders, final sales could potentially be much higher than that.
Don’t forget, we already have electric cars out there. The Nissan Leaf, released in 2010, has sold less than 300,000 units in the six years it’s been on the road. How did Tesla founder, Elon Musk, do it?
The answer is as simple as it is loaded. Elon Musk is a master of marketing, especially when it comes to marketing to a new and different audience. So let’s look at their campaigns and how they’re approaching their chosen market.
- Tesla does not work with dealers or have commissioned salespeople, instead all sales are conducted online with no chance of negotiating for a better deal
- You could be waiting several years to get a car
- They are selling a $60,000-$100,000+ car that has a limited battery life
This is an entirely new way to sell, and buy, a car. And people are flocking to it. Why? Because Tesla started big and worked down. Rather than starting with a car that anyone could afford (and that looked like a car that anyone could afford), they started with a car that looks as expensive as it actually is. Early adopters fund the technology for the next generation of cars and their buyers.
Their marketing features gleaming white floors that drives home their point that Tesla cars are clean. There is no grease or oil spilling anywhere. There are no fumes or emissions. The cars are clean in every sense of the word, unlike traditional cars that leave grease stains and pump out CO2. Likewise, their site is clean and clear, laid out so that anyone can browse and buy at their leisure, and they have a thriving online presence, both on social media and on various internet forums. By fostering a sense of both exclusivity and community, they managed to build a hype that has never been seen in the car world before.
It’s not for nothing that Tesla is now being called the Apple of the auto industry. Their marketing plans and products have touched a nerve and people want to see more of it. Whether they can actually meet the numbers is another question, but they have proven that there is a massive market out there, and are at the forefront of selling to it. While there are other electric cars either already on or about to hit the market, like Toyota’s Prius Prime or BMW’s i3, they don’t have anywhere near the hype or audience that Tesla is currently entertaining. Because Elon Musk has decided to simply market Tesla – differently.