How to sell the future of cars

Rays of light shoot across city streets as skylines transform into geometric patterns.

“Trying to predict the future is a discouraging and hazardous occupation,” futurist Arthur C. Clarke says while narrating BMW’s “Hello Future” TV ad. “The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.”

The spot aired during the 2014 Winter Olympics to advertise the BMW i8 hybrid supercar.

Rather than relaying the details of what was then a futuristic, high-tech vehicle, BMW sold the future.

In “Tomorrow for Sale,” the fifth episode of Season 2 of our podcast “Futurismo,” we examine how the industry can get consumers — skeptics, early adopters and everyone in between — to support and embrace its vision.

So, what does the industry need to do to get consumers on board? Rely on one group to educate the rest, said Scott Corwin, managing director and future mobility leader at Deloitte.

“Look at those populations and segments of people that are willing to give it a try and let them sort of do social reference and tell their neighbors about it,” he said.

In the episode, we look at a similar dilemma the industry faces with electric vehicles. The early adopters, those who value green initiatives and likely have a lifestyle that an EV fits into, jumped on right away. Convincing the rest of the population is the challenge.

As with EVs, Corwin said, many consumers are going to need direct experience with self-driving vehicles to accept them.