PR for 4×4 & MPVs loses out to CO2

Although the release announcing the demise of 4×4 & MPV driver magazine claims it is “the recession’s latest victim”, it is interesting to note that its editor and art director are planning to pursue “new motoring publishing ventures together, including a magazine dedicated to low CO2 cars.”

I am supervising two dissertations of BA PR students at Bournemouth University who are looking at the environment in respect of press releases and editorial coverage in the motoring sector.

Both have found a huge focus from both the PR and media side on “green” aspects of vehicles in the past months – perhaps not surprisingly.  They are exploring other issues such as prevalence of “greenwashing”, message framing, journalistic-decision making and roles as gate-keepers and so on.

I’m not convinced that the public or other stakeholders of the automotive industry are yet recognising the motor industry as having a reputation for investment and delivery in environmental terms.

But that is clearly the direction that communications in the specialist motor sector is heading.  Whether it is down to the recession, environmentalism or market forces, the end result is pretty much the same – at least in the immediate future.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

2 thoughts on “PR for 4×4 & MPVs loses out to CO2”

  1. It’s tempting to blame the motor industry for the predicament it now finds itself in. It continued making cars based on old technology in the face of a global recession AND incontrovertible evidence of climate change.

    Yet I can see there’s also another side to this. The industry is in trouble because its cars have become so much more reliable so we don’t need to change them so often. (I’m travelling stupid distances each week in a 10 year old Volkswagen that returns 60+mpg.)

  2. Richard – I think that for the US car manufacturers, in particular, there is some merit in the industry not having modernised sufficiently around environmental trends. The profitability of “gas guzzler” trucks (which were taxed lower than cars) and low fuel prices definitely helped support The Big 3 when they should have been adapting.

    However, in Europe, there has been much more progress – although some resistance also to EU changes on environmental performance.

    Like you say, there are counter arguments relating to how we can all extend our car ownership in the current downturn for a year or so longer. This highlights the real issue in Europe for the car industry is one of confidence and credit. At some point we all have to replace a car and need to have a market of new and secondhand models which have retained some residual value. This has been built on access to credit – and also confidence that you can meet repayments.

    In honesty there has probably never been a better time to buy a new “greener” car – especially if you don’t have one to sell. But can you get the credit and are you confident to do so?

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