By Alpha Ba, Head of Brand Marketing – European Brands, Stellantis Middle East 

As partnerships go, the potential for those born in the internet age to propel the adoption of electric vehicles into a new era of sustainable transport is an opportunity that the automotive industry can ill afford to pass up.

Nations across the world have set ambitious goals to make the switch from combustible fossil fuels towards a greener, cleaner age of electrified mobility. And Stellantis has placed itself front and centre to take advantage of those opportunities within a global industry on the cusp of monumental change.

Young people born in the 90s and the early years of the 21st Century are often referred to as Generation Z – and it is this age group that will play a crucial role in the transition towards electric vehicles. 

The days of young people seeing a driving license as a rite of passage into adulthood appear to be over, with more teens and twenty-somethings than ever shunning the chance to take to the roads and opt for ride sharing apps, e-scooters and public transport instead. According to the US Federal Highway Administration just one in four 16-year-olds had their driving license in 2021, compared with a little over 43 per cent in 1995. The rise of social media and home working has also led to fewer people linking up in person, so reducing demand for driving lessons. 

The question we must now ask is, is this an increasing trend or a minor blip in the way young people view vehicle ownership and an ambition to get behind the wheel? As the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s, the automotive industry must embrace a fresh approach to appeal to Generation Z.  

Electric vehicle manufacturers are revolutionising the automotive industry, with more consumers looking for environmentally friendly options. To appeal to new markets and to attract younger consumers, such as Generation Z, these brands must switch focus to build upon brand equity and position themselves in a more attractive way. 

That can only be achieved by gaining an understanding of our target audience. Generation Z is known for valuing sustainability, technology, and social responsibility, making them the ideal demographic for electric vehicles. As a result, our brands must focus on highlighting these values in their marketing campaigns and messaging to resonate with this audience.

To build brand equity, collaborations can be forged with other sustainable and socially responsible brands such as a green energy companies or fashion brands with a focus on sustainable fashion. Or they can choose to align themselves with influencers who stand for something and are have won the trust of this demographic – helping to build credibility and create a stronger reason to believe and buy into those brands. 

Or they may choose to position themselves as leaders in sustainability and social responsibility by engaging in philanthropic efforts and supporting environmental initiatives – two causes embedded in the values of Generation Z.  Showcasing this commitment to sustainability and social responsibility demonstrates to customers that a brand has shared ideals – fostering loyalty and creating connections that brands that neglect purpose or sustainability simply can’t achieve. 

But it is not just about building brand equity through marketing and messaging. It’s also about creating products that appeal to the youth demographic by investing in design and tech, to create the allure they expect from any leading brand, regardless of its sustainability credentials.

Investing in research and development during the design and manufacturing stages is essential if sustainability is to be at the core of a product rather than simply a marketing add-on. Using Stellantis as an example, as a business we design and manufacture 14 industry leading automobile brands. As that influence now extends across 130 countries with manufacturing plants in 30 of those, the potential for Stellantis to shape and mould consumer habits – and change the way we design and manufacture vehicles across the automotive sector as a whole – is significant. As we aim to become the industry champion in climate change, that’s a challenge we’re addressing head on. 

By creating both a highly functional and covetable product and a brand identity that aligns with the values and aspirations of target audiences, electric vehicle manufacturers, like Stellantis, can build a loyal customer base who become brand ambassadors and help us all make the transition to a more sustainable future for mobility.