Data Journalist at Seedtag
After analyzing more than 137.000 articles labeled as Hybrid & Alternative Vehicles, we’ve been able to increase our understanding of media discourse about this topic.
The changing world we live in is evolving faster and faster. We’ve developed technological advances that seemed impossible a few years ago, only to surpass them in a short period of time. We’re discovering ways to improve technologies that seemed unbeatable, applying new ways of thinking and introducing new demands to the design of these products. An excellent example of this dynamic is the automotive industry, a symbol of industrial development applied to the improvement of people's daily lives. In recent years, it has been at the centre of a revolution driven by the growing need to reduce the climate footprint. The industry is now convinced that the future of the automobile lies in electrification, with H&EVs at their core.
In this rapidly changing world, keeping up with projects like this requires making accurate decisions without stopping for too long to observe and analyse. To stay on the wave, it is necessary to acquire an adequate understanding of society's needs and perceptions. In such a networked society, the complexity of understanding so many interconnected factors presents itself as a barrier to overcome. This is why context is so important, and thanks to AI technology, we have the opportunity to master this context, use it to comprehend the constant changes and be able to design strategies that do not fall behind when they are put into practice. We can improve our knowledge and reduce uncertainty.
To understand media perspectives on hybrid and electric technologies in the automotive industry, we have identified and analysed the key topics discussed in articles related to Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (H&EVs). How? We used articles published by Seedtag’s UK publishers from January to March 2021 (more than 13,700 articles!). Then, Seedtag’s Contextual AI identified which articles were about Automotive, and then made a classification of those that belonged to the Hybrid and Alternative Vehicles label. Lastly, we built a graph based on terminological co-occurrence, delving into each cluster to understand the topic it represents, and analysing its context to determine its relationship with the rest.
We identified four leading topics: Car review articles (representing 48% of the total volume of visits), Launches and news (28%), Charging stations and services (13%) and Future of transportation and cities (9%). The remaining 2% consist on minor non-groupable topics.
The viability of H&EVs
“Car review articles” is one of the most trending topics in the automotive media. To discuss hybrid and electric cars, these articles use specialised vocabulary, grouping articles with a substantial number of tests and numerical figures to compare and evaluate vehicles. Their approach of hybrid and electric cars also comes from this perspective: they mainly judge their power, performance, daily use and price in comparison to traditionally fuelled cars, taking also into account how much the climate impact is reduced by the use of these cars. They take a pragmatic view of the electrification of cars, judging the real viability of these as a replacement for traditional vehicles.
Hype and Dreams
With lots of news about announcements, launches, leaks and company plans, “Launches and news” is a topic more forward-looking than the previous one, employing a less technical vocabulary and more focused on expectations. Two sub-topics receive special attention here: Brands’ plans to move away from fossil fuel engines to 100% electric technologies is the first, and new futuristic car prototypes and innovations is the second one (for example, Hydrogen-fueled cars). Looking to the future, hype and dreams are concentrated in this topic.
Key Pillars for Electrification
In the “Charging stations and services” category, guides and information related to charging electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are compiled together. This topic predominantly contains information about charging stations, their location, prices, time to charge and domestic installation, responding to readers' concerns about the "fuel" of H&EVs. If the first topic grouped a technical approach and was focused on the mechanics of the vehicle, this topic takes a more informative and revealing approach, focusing on the infrastructure necessary for the operation of these vehicles.
Cities of the Future
The Future is a cross-cutting theme in H&EVs articles. As a result of technological innovation, this revolutionary technology is also closely associated with many other innovations in the world of transport, which seek a place in the idea of the "city of the future". Publications in the “Future cities” topic talk about technologies (drones, eScooters, trains, etc.) and constructions (transport networks and hubs) that lay the foundations for these cities, and the government's involvement in their development as well. This topic has mainly generic vocabulary and the most varied news, and as can be seen in the graph, it is closely connected to the “Key Pillars for Electrification.”
Sometimes it’s complicated to get the full picture. Hundreds of articles are published every day, and it is easy to get lost and only take into account the perspective of some of them, and leave the rest aside, falling into biases and basing strategies on partial information. We wanted to give you a broader and deeper view of the articles on H&EVs, which can get a little closer to understanding the context and, lastly, serve as a basis for a superior understanding of consumer interest.
After analysing these topics, there are some key conclusions to understand the situation of H&EVs in the media and the perception of readers. In media articles about H&EVs, Electric cars are perceived as the future, a symbol of innovation and technological advance, but there are also worries about how close this future is, questioning if electric cars are a viable option right now, or if it is better to upgrade to Hybrids and wait for greater improvements.
Our analysis shows that Electric cars’ range, charging time and the scarcity of charging stations are the key troubling points in these publications, with an underlying discourse questioning if cities are prepared for this kind of vehicles. Simultaneously, there is a growing interest in EVs future, mainly in prototypes and full electrification plans.
On the other hand, Hybrid cars are portrayed as the present, the option of choice against Electric cars, with their main advantage being also their major drawback: including fossil fuels as backup, which is also viewed as strongly related to emissions, taxes and fossil fuel prices.