Sustainability Environment

Electric vehicles may have been the real winners of Super Bowl LVI

Story at a glance

  • Electric vehicles as a potential solution to the climate crisis took center stage Sunday evening during Super Bowl commercial breaks.
  • While some car companies leaned heavily on celebrity endorsements, others opted for a less flashy approach.
  • The popularity of electric vehicles has skyrocketed, with EV sales in 2021 more than doubling their market share from just two years prior.

With electric vehicle sales accounting for 9 percent of global new car sales in 2021, it’s not surprising that Super Bowl commercials this year were saturated with advertisements for electric vehicles (EV), with major players like Kia, BMW, General Motors and Chevrolet — and newcomer Polestar — doubling down on already-massive marketing campaigns touting completely battery-powered rides. 

Kia reimagined man’s relationship with his formerly furry best friend, while BMW enlisted the force of Greek Gods to give their eco-friendly pitch a spark. Polestar promised its brand would be different all together, vowing “no compromises” and “no greenwashing.” 

Nissan made its return to the Super Bowl after seven years as one of the only automakers to advertise a diesel vehicle but still briefly featured one of its electric SUVs in a star-studded ad led by “Schitt’s Creek” actor Eugene Levy. 

General Motors warned viewers that criminal mastermind Dr. Evil is no longer the greatest threat to the planet – leading the iconic villain to rebrand as Dr. EV-il to conquer the climate crisis.

Here’s a rundown of the Super Bowl ads reflecting a changing auto industry. 

General Motors 

General Motors’ Super Bowl ad tackled the climate crisis in general, warning viewers that Austin Powers’ criminal nemesis has been overtaken as the greatest threat to planet earth.  

The company reprised the cast of the classic film, plotting a way for Dr. Evil, whose spot-on evil list was taken by the climate crisis, to reassert his dominance as the world’s foremost criminal mastermind.  

Their solution: take out the competition by conquering climate change.  

BMW IX: $83,200 

BMW’s new sports activity vehicle received a jolt from a retired God struggling to adjust to his new life in Palm Springs, California. The automaker depicts Zeus (Arnold Schwarzenegger), often symbolized by a lightning bolt, as a beleaguered retiree stuck fulfilling mundane, trivial tasks — like walking his “dog” Peggie.  

His wife, fellow Greek God Hera (Salma Hayek), however, found a solution to her husband’s dilemma and restored the ancient deity’s splendor with the brand-new car.  

The BMW IX boasts a range of up to 324 miles and clocks in from 0 to 60 at 4.4 seconds, according to the automaker’s website. It has a maximum of 516 horsepower and can log up to 90 miles after a 10-minute charge.  

Kia EV6: starting at $49,500  

Kia hyped its new all-electric EV6 crossover by redefining the bond between humans and their non-human best friends. In a 70-second spot, a robotic canine occupying storefront window space stared longingly at a couple playing with their own four-legged pet before noticing a man charging his new Kia EV6.  

The robot dog took his chance on a new home and friend — risking its own battery life — and chased the man down several busy city blocks and along rooftops. His final leap, after seeing the man’s parked EV, depletes his battery and sends him crashing into the pavement. Luckily, the man is there to share his Kia EV6’s charge using his optional on-board power station.  

Kia’s new electric vehicle has an estimated range of 232 miles of EPA-estimated range.  

All-electric Chevy Silverado: $39,900 

The classic opening to HBO’s “The Sopranos” got a refresh in Chevrolet’s advertisement for its first-ever all-electric pickup, featuring some familiar faces. 

Chevy’s reimagined opener — directed by show creator David Chase — swaps out the late James Gandolfini’s cigar-loving Tony Soprano and his Chevy suburban for Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Soprano’s daughter Meadow in the series, in an electric-powered Chevy Silverado. 

Sigler, just as Gandolfini did two decades earlier, drives down the New Jersey turnpike from Manhattan, but this time around Gandolfini’s cigar is replaced by a lollipop and, instead of paying a toll, Sigler uses her electric E-ZPass. Sigler glides into a parking spot with an EV charger outside Bahrs Landing restaurant in Highlands, N.J. — featured in “The Sopranos” prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark” — where she embraces Robert Iler, who played Meadow’s younger brother A.J. Soprano. 

The “whole new truck for a whole new generation” won’t be available until 2024, but it can still be reserved for $39,9000, plus an estimated Destination Freight Charge of $1,695, which is subject to change. 

2023 Nissan Z 

Nissan made its return to the Super Bowl after a seven-year hiatus as one of the only automakers to advertise a non-electric vehicle. 

After getting off to a rough start behind the wheel of Nissan Brand ambassador Brie Larson’s Nissan Z sports car, “Schitt’s Creek” co-creator and actor Eugene Levy gains confidence, eventually transforming into the long-haired, tattooed star of a fictional action-packed blockbuster. 

While the newest model of the Z is not electric, the ad briefly features the all-electric Nissan Ariya, driven by Levy’s “Schitt’s Creek” co-star Catherine O’Hara. The Ariya makes a second appearance at the end of the 60-second spot, with Larson snatching her keys back from Levy outside the premiere of their film. 
 
The all-new 2023 Z hasn’t yet been priced, but is estimated to start at around $40,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. The 2023 Ariya, outfitted with a DC fast charger capable of taking its 87-kWh battery from 10 percent to 80 percent in just 45 minutes, retails for around $45,000. 

Polestar 2: $45,900 

In its Super Bowl debut, the relatively new EV company Polestar takes aim at the flashy adverts of its well-established competitors in a “no nonsense” plug for its 2022 Polestar 2, the first car powered by Google’s Android Automotive operating system. 

Polestar, owned in part by Volvo, in its ad fires direct shots at Volkswagen and Tesla, promising “no Dieselgate” and “no conquering Mars,” referencing the German carmaker’s 2015 emissions scandal and Elon Musk’s ambitions to colonize Mars.