Did you watch TV this weekend? If so, you likely saw the reemergence of the 73 mile electric LEAF in at least one or two ad placements.
Up until very recently, Nissan has been hesitant to promote the LEAF, other than a casual reference in its 'family of cars' advertisements. But why would they? They lose money on every discounted LEAF they sell.
However, for the first time since the great polar bear drive ('making of' ad below), Nissan has brought the LEAF back into the forefront in a big way.
Nissan sales, although improved last month (984 units), have been mired below 4 digits since September of 2011 (1,034 units). However, according to Edmunds.com and Truecar.com, Nissan (on average) bumped incentives to $4,200 during the month of September to move each of those 984 units.
As point of reference, the two outlets determined that GM had bumped incentives on the Chevrolet Volt to $6,500 to induce their best selling month ever in September (2,851 units).
So, why the return to aggressive marketing?
The answer is fairly simple. Nissan is telegraphing the start of production in Smyrna, TN for December, which also means the introduction of a much cheaper, entry level LEAF, while trying to clear pricey 2012 inventory off their dealer's lots.
While it is true this entry-level model will offer less features than the standard LEAF (no LED headlights, fancy NAV system, cheap wheels, etc.), it will also give the customer what they truly seem to want, especially considering how both Nissan and Chevrolet are obtaining sales of late. A lower price. Industry expectation is that this new, less sophisticated, LEAF will join the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in the "starting under $30,000" club.
On the LEAF price changes (and results to date), Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice-president, said that while the company still believes range anxiety is the number one stumbling block to adoption of electric vehicles, that with a lower priced offering, Nissan hopes to bring real volume to the sales of the LEAF.
For us, while we personally love six-figure, exotic, fast new offerings to test drive around the track, cheap electric vehicles can not come soon enough for us to actually own.
Below: Not Nissan's newest ad campaign for the US...because that would be boring. Instead check out this Nissan LEAF commercial from Japan, complete with huge CHAdeMO plug.