Nissan is airing a clever new ad campaign in support of its Leaf electric vehicle. The TV spots feature average Joes and Janes going about their lives using everyday gadgets. Instead of running on electricity, they’re powered by gasoline instead — complete with chattering little engines and bleak, soul-draining plumes of exhaust. The car maker’s apparently hoping that people with start considering a trip to the gas station as unappealing as turning an ignition key to start up their PCs.
Things better left un-aired?
The ads ignore the Leaf’s Achilles’ heal: range anxiety – something that owners of that other plug-in electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt, don’t have to contend with thanks to its range-extending gas tank/motor setup that can be used to charge its batteries. (The Volt even makes an unflattering cameo in the spot.) Instead, a Leaf driver’s seen unplugging his car from a pristine charging station, which in reality remains a rare sight save for some communities, mostly in California. Overall, though, it’s a smart move for the company to turn up the volume on its EV.
It boils down to timing. Though the ads overtly depict the environment-fouling aspects of gasoline engine emissions, there’s also the underlying issue of cost. Nissan’s marketing push resonates a little more sharply now that high gas prices are pinching budgets. Considering that Leaf and Volt sales are essentially neck-and-neck, Nissan’s clearly hoping that a zero-emissions (from the non-existent tailpipe not the power plant), cheap-to-operate EV will help it pull ahead.
And about that range thing… If you drive hundreds of miles at a stretch, Nissan really doesn’t want your business — as far as the Leaf is concerned, anyway. The Leaf’s strictly a daily driver for running errands and commuting to work, provided your job falls within reach of a charging station.
Check it the minute-long “Gas Powered Everything” version of the commercial below. You gotta wonder if the opening moments were inspired by last year’s Energy Star-approved gas powered alarm clock debacle.
What do you think? Does it make you want to at least test drive a Leaf?