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Arnold Schwarzenegger Tells Drivers to Kick Gas

Former California governor teams up with nonprofit to promote EVs
Photograph courtesy of Veloz

LOS ANGELES —Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former governor of California, is encouraging consumers to ditch gasoline-powered vehicles for electric vehicles (EVs) in a new ad campaign.

Kicking Gas is a series of humorous movie shorts produced by Veloz, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that advocates for EV adoption. Its members include state regulator California Air Resources Board (CARB); automakers such as General Motors, Honda, BMW Group and Nissan; EV charging networks such as ElectrifyAmerica and ChargePoint; and utilities.

In the Kicking Gas series, Schwarzenegger portrays Howard Kleiner, a used-car salesman trying to convince consumers who are shopping for an EV to buy a conventional vehicle. The hidden-camera footage shows Schwarzenegger in a fake mustache, wig and baseball cap, pitching the disadvantages of internal combustion engine vehicles as selling points.

After one customer mentions the tax incentives available for EV purchases, Kleiner says, “You want a tax credit or do you want to have street credit?” He also promotes gasoline-powered cars’ noisiness and smelly emissions.

The Kicking Gas campaign is targeted at increasing public awareness of EVs. According to a UC Davis study cited by Veloz, more than 50% of Californians know “next to nothing” about EVs. This is despite California having the highest share of EVs in the United States, plus strong state incentives to encourage ownership.

“Over 16 years ago, I set out to prove that you can have the car you love and the clean air you need,” Schwarzenegger said. “I greened my fleet of personal cars, including my Hummers. And I challenged the auto industry to do the same. They now have the electric-vehicle technology to outcompete gas-powered cars.”

Mary Nichols, chair of CARB and a member of the Veloz leadership team, worked with Schwarzenegger when he was governor to pass a law that establishes California’s ability to set its own, tougher vehicle-emissions standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which provided California with a waiver to develop its own tougher standards under the Obama administration, is now challenging that waiver under the Trump administration.

“For some members of our unlikely coalition, this campaign is tricky and treads difficult territory,” Nichols said. “Change is hard. But everyone knows the future is electric, and California, for one, is committed to capturing the market advantage.”

In a recent poll, 62% of Veloz members cited lack of consumer awareness as the main barrier to EV adoption, 20 points higher than the next two issues: EVs’ higher price and a lack of charging stations. Members said the top consumer misperceptions were around EVs’ limited range (77%), lack of charging stations (60%) and lower performance (45%).

Veloz members considered the top benefits of owning an EV no tailpipe pollution (71%), overall performance (54%), access to HOV lanes (45%) and long-term cost savings (40%).

To watch the Kicking Gas shorts, click here.

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