Auto Rock Stars, Easy Fill, Leaf Staying Home

MAY 27 2012 BY MARC LEE 3


The Plug-In Prius Looks To Go Head to Head with the Volt (

The Volt continues to bring new buyers to the Chevy brand. When last reported 90% of those buying the Volt were new to the brand. That number is holding strong at 70%, according to GM.

The Chevrolet Volt is winning new customers to the brand from the competition with the Toyota Prius topping the list of most traded-in vehicle followed by the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and BMW 3 Series.

The cars named as top trade-ins are the rock stars of the automotive world and have been for a very long time. To have the likes of them traded in for the newly arrived Volt has to be very encouraging for GM. One can only imagine the revelry, the high fives and impromptu happy dances being thrown down in the halls of GM offices.

Automakers love these conquest buys because it is a point in their win column AND a loss in the other guys “L” column.

But as GreenCarReports has suggested the Volt has not had any direct competition until the recent arrival of the Plug-In Prius because the battery only Leaf is a completely different beast.  It is definitely early days in the electrification of the fleet.


The EasyFill Alert on the Nissan Altima (Nissan)

I am a big fan of tire pressure monitor systems (TPMS). Low tire pressure can cause excessive tire wear, poor gas mileage/electric efficiency, and even make a crash or rollover more likely. I have a compressor at home and a gauge built into my inflator, but it is not accurate so I have a separate gauge to verify the pressure. I try to be vigilant about keeping that gauge in a set place, but I swear the thing grows legs and hides itself in a garage that is admittedly beyond redemption. Now Nissan is on the scene to make my tire inflation experience very easy.

When the tire-pressure warning system alerts a driver to a low tire, a display shows the pressure and the relevant tire or tires. As the driver fills the tire, the car’s four-way flashers come on to confirm that air is going in. When the tire is full, the horn chirps to let the driver know the process is complete.


Battery Production at the AESC Factory in Zama

The LA Times suggests that Nissan is basically stalling on Leaf sales to the US until the factory comes online in Tennessee because they can make more money selling Japanese manufactured Leafs in Japan based on the value of the Yen.  Its been said before and it is hard to argue with that logic.

Those who are thinking the Leaf has lost steam based on flagging US sales may want to factor that into the equation. And as our own Jay Cole has pointed out there is a battery constraint just at the moment for Nissan, because it is having to share battery production with new Renault models going into production.

Categories: General


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3 Comments on "Auto Rock Stars, Easy Fill, Leaf Staying Home"

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The PIP isn’t all electric during it’s 11 mile battery range unlike the Volt. Only the Karma is an extended range electric vehicle like the Volt….



It has to be considered that some reports are appearing on LEAF forums of decreased AER after only one year of usage. The LEAF’s non-thermally controlled pack has always been a concern for me, as well as it’s total use capacity and small buffers.

All this probably will lead to EV media bashing and “special reports” heralding that EV tech is “not there yet” – which will unfortunately impact PHEV-EREV sales. I’ve interviewed LEAF owners in my area and it’s surprising how many
early adopted without completely assessing their daily transportation needs. Every owner I’ve talked to states at least one instance where the short range either left them “sweating making it home”, or making a decision to use another car at the household to accomplish a task.

I do not believe LEAF’s sales slump is a product of high demand and low supply. I think the shine is off the apple once the extreme limitations of the $33,000 car are understood.

The 300 mile EV at an affordable price is afar off. Tennessee production, battery availability or not, I just don’t see LEAF as a volume seller at any time unless it’s capabilites are increased dramatically.

If the Leaf is only viable for 1percent of the driving public, that still represents 100,000 cars in the US alone (per year) so what is the issue?