Electric vehicles were first produced in the 1880’s, and yet still remain a peripheral mode of transport in modern society regardless of the environmental damage caused by internal combustion engine vehicles. I thought it would be interesting to investigate the discourses in global media online journals and news sources surrounding electric vehicles to gain insights into the current stance taken toward this form of transportation technology. 100 recently published online articles were collected and analyzed using a corpus-assisted discourse analysis approach. The articles were found using the Google search engine and filtered to search only news articles. The search was electric vehicles. The methodological approach, which combines corpus linguistics with discourse analysis, focused on word frequency, salience and words in context in order to study language patterns in the corpus of texts. The analysis found that prevalent discourses were related to the technological advances made in areas related to the battery unit, charging capability and travel range of the vehicles, as well as the growing infrastructure necessary to support such means of transport and the lowering of prices. Thus, rhetorical arguments were presented which positioned electric vehicles as a comparable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles. The research found that an emphasis towards lower greenhouse gas emissions in electric vehicles was not made, thus, the environmental benefits of electric vehicles was not highlighted. This appeared to indicate that media strategies aim to convince potential electric vehicle owners that such technologies will not negatively impact their way of life. The fact that the environmental benefits were back-grounded appears to indicate that regardless of pollution and global warming, such issues are of secondary concern for most car owners at this current time.
As can be seen from the keyword list above, emissions is ranked 18th in level of salience, and occurs much less frequently in the corpus than other lexical items related to vehicle performance and efficiency.
Emissions is an importance discourse related to electric vehicles, but it is not the foremost concern for those writing about and promoting this form of technology.
It does appear that people do not wish to be inconvenienced by adopting a new form of technology which may infringe on their current lifestyle. Therefore, the majority of discourses surrounding electric vehicles appears to attempt to convince the potential customer that by changing to this alternative form of transportation, their lifestyle will not be negatively impacted.
And that’s a pity!
A collocation network of electric & cars calculated by MI score.