In a recent announcement, Fast Company chose three EV companies for its “Brands That Matter” list for 2023. While two of the players won’t be a big surprise, there’s one brand that surprised even me. In this article, I’m take a look at each one!
What “Brands That Matter” Really Means
Before I get started, though, I must inform readers that Tesla isn’t on the list. If you’re a Branch Elonian and you’re thinking it’s time to go bite my head off in the comments, I’ll first ask you to not shoot the messenger. I write for CleanTechnica and not Fast Company, so if this deeply offends, you may want to look their email up and not mine. Personally, I’m certainly not going to argue that Tesla is an EV brand that doesn’t matter, because despite any differences I may have with Tesla’s owner, that would be an incredibly dumb thing to say. Of course Tesla matters.
But, the “duh” factor is probably why Tesla didn’t end up on their list. It’s “Brands That Matter” and not “Brands That Matter The Most” or “The Most Important Companies In The Universe.” If you look at the criteria for Brands That Matter, they’re actually looking for companies that had an impact this year on the overall public discourse about the industry the company works in (EVs in this case).
When everyone knows about Tesla and EVs (and our dogs, cats, and any rodents the cat didn’t catch), it’s hard to argue that Tesla made a PR and branding splash in 2023. It is certainly still the most important company in the EV industry, but it’s been there for years. Even the hottest news stories, like the impending Cybertruck deliveries, are all old news. So, keep that in mind.
Honestly, the inclusion of Electrify America is probably why I wrote the introduction I did. If you can understand what Brands That Matter is really about, this will make a lot more sense.
While any mention of Electrify America on Xitter (the X is pronounced ‘sh’) is certainly going to rustle jimmies and grind some gears, I’ve found the discourse around Electrify America to be heavily exaggerated. I’m as annoyed as anybody when I show up and a station doesn’t start a charge on the first try. I’m more annoyed when I have to move stalls because one just won’t work. I’d be annoyed at slow speeds, too, but I drive a Bolt, so that’s normal. But, I’ve never been stranded by a broken Electrify America station, and you’ll find that most people being honest about the company will tell you the same.
The truth is honestly bad enough. Electrify America needs to get its oldest stations upgraded to ones that are easier to keep up and do a better job at proactive maintenance. There’s really no need to lie about the company if the goal is to boost one’s Tesla-infested stonk portfolio.
But, all of this is irrelevant to Brands That Matter. They’re looking for social impact, not who the best company was. With that in mind, we can get to the meat of why Fast Company chose Electrify America:
“By and large, automakers have tried to address some of the aesthetic- and performance-based hurdles to electric vehicle adoption, but one of the larger infrastructural challenges is a general lack of charging stations. Electrify America wants to live up to its name and change that — and the past year has been a big one. The brand has expanded to 47 states (yes, even Hawaii) and the District of Columbia, opening an average of three charging stations a week while getting 15 automakers to sign on to charging agreements.
As it builds the infrastructure for an EV future, it’s making sure that rural areas are included and investing in STEM education and workforce-development organizations. And though it currently offsets the power used by its chargers with credits, this past spring Electrify America broke ground on Solar Glow 1, a solar energy plant that will help create new energy to offset that used by its chargers.”
In other words, Fast Company didn’t say, “We chose Electrify America because they’re the best there ever was!” They noticed that the company has expanded into many states, including rural areas. They also noticed that the company has been doing a lot of outreach that goes beyond just selling charging services.
“Electrify America is honored to be recognized by Fast Company. Our mission is to help move our transportation system to an electrified future,” said Robert Barrosa, president and CEO of Electrify America. “We are committed to offering a coast-to-coast charging network that meets customer demand for accessible and hyper-fast EV charging.”
MINI isn’t known for being an EV brand. Its first EV was one custom-built to film some underground scenes for The Italian Job two decades ago, but they dubbed in engine sounds to hide that it was an EV. It was only in the last few years that the company seriously got into EVs, but the company kind of dipped its toes into the water with a sub-100-mile MINI at the LA Auto Show.
But, in 2023, MINI made a huge course correction that we’ve been covering at CleanTechnica. It has kept its signature round center gauge cluster concept, and partnered with Samsung to bring it into the 21st century. MINI also understands the importance of the US market, so it is NOT going to do what some other companies have done and basically become a Chinese manufacturer.
3M? The Tape People?
If Electrify America and MINI didn’t surprise you, then this one probably will.
The truth is, 3M actually does quite a bit behind the scenes providing adhesives, coolant, thermal management, and insulation. It’s not exciting, but EVs would be difficult to make well without using at least some 3M technology and materials. This, oddly enough, makes it an EV company.
3M did a lot this year to also increase school zone safety, with a pilot program making a real difference where it’s been tried.
Featured image provided by Electrify America.
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