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The Sims Test-Drive Electric Vehicles: What Does it Mean for the Real World?
The Sims can now drive electric vehicles. Photo via Joystiq.

The Sims can now drive electric vehicles. Photo via Joystiq.

“Today it is no longer the world that must adjust to the automobile; it’s the automobile that must adapt to people.”

That’s an official quote from French automaker Renault, which yesterday announced it has partnered with Electronic Arts Inc. to allow players of The Sims — one of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world — to integrate Renault’s forthcoming range of electric vehicles into the game.

A digital version of Renault’s Twizy Z.E Concept car will be made available as a free download to The Sims 3 players within an “Electric Vehicle Pack,” which will include other “sustainable environmental items” like solar panels and a windmill. The payoff? The Sims in-game family will reduce their weekly virtual household bills.

Sure, the people and the cars are fake, but the influence is real. “Electric vehicles are additionally going to appeal to younger, more socially conscious prospects and especially early adopters,” said Stephen Norman, senior vice-president of Global Marketing for the Renault Group. “This is the heartland of The Sims 3 community and it thus provides a great innovative way to build the Renault Brand just ahead of the Renault range of affordable electric vehicles themselves.”

Could you imagine if other sustainable mobility companies and organizations had the resources and capacity to launch expensive worldwide marketing efforts for their products and services? Imagine if The Sims, or any other virtual characters, could save more money by commuting to work by bus rapid transit? What if you could increase your health by biking or walking to the grocery store? Or make more friends by socializing in a well-designed pedestrian plaza? Not only would The Sims world be a healthier place to live, but perhaps it would rub off on the players’ real world, too.

The video game collaboration is part of Renault’s worldwide marketing campaign, known as “Drive the Change,” which takes a highly self-aware approach to selling cars, recognizing that the auto industry contributes to congestion, traffic, fatalities, global warming, and yes, even social inequity. The car company commits to “bringing sustainable mobility for all, in order to make again cars a progress for people.”

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