There’s no denying that Nissan’s electric car leadership position has worn off quite sharply in the past year, and that seems to be directly due (in part) to expectations of coming long-range electric cars.
The launch of the Tesla Model 3 just thrashed any near-term hope Nissan may have had in this market. Unfortunately, it responded in a somewhat embarrassing way.
Below, you can see an email I received from Nissan on April 22. I thought I could sit on the story for a bit while I got to other urgent news, but the word has already been getting around, and Nissan has apparently even run the ad in major print newspapers. Here’s a portion of the email I received from Nissan:
I love the Nissan LEAF, and so does our long-term reviewer of the car (my mom), but I don’t know anyone who would agree that “there’s no reason to wait” for the Model 3, especially with Tesla’s more aggressive production schedule (announced after these ads ran).
Now, if you need to get a new car between now and the time you can receive a Model 3, I agree the LEAF is a great option!
Or if Nissan was just saying that going with a LEAF for a couple years while the Model 3 is in development is better than living with a gas car, I again agree.
Here’s the print ad, by the way:
But this comes back to the big question: What will Nissan’s real response be? We may have gotten a small hint from Carlos Ghosn the other day:
“First obviously we have many products coming but we we’re not ready to talk about them because what we want today is to sell the products we have. If we start talking about the products coming in the future somehow it always handicaps the sales of today. Tesla has not this problem because they launched Tesla Model 3 which is a completely new car so even though they announce it today and it will be selling one year and a half down the road, it is not replacing any existing product so there is no impact on that, okay. We have to be more careful because today we are selling electric cars and even though we want to continue to promote these cars I don’t want you to think these are the only cars we are going to be launching on the market. There is going to be a lot of innovation coming from Nissan and Renault and we are intending to compete against all the other car makers on electric cars. So I don’t want you to think that what you are seeing today is everything you are going to see from us, we are watching competition, we are measuring what they will be coming with and we will be more than happy to show you the capability in terms of electric cars coming from both Nissan and Renault.”
Granted, that doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t know. In fact, Carlos previously told us that Nissan had a long-range electric car in the works, and there’s no way anyone half serious about this industry and their future in the auto world can’t have a long-range electric car in the works. The real questions are:
- When will battery costs and scale for Nissan be at a place where it can compete with a Model 3 (at least, in theory)?
- When will Nissans be able to use the Tesla Supercharger network or something akin to it? (Let’s hope we’re talking about the former, because if Nissan goes with the latter approach, it’s going to be many years before an electric Nissan is comparable with a Tesla for long-distance trips.)
- Will Nissan’s competing offers be designed attractively enough to attract the masses (like the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are)?
We’ll see. Unfortunately, for now, the LEAF ads at the top that tried to riff off of the Model 3 enthusiasm seemed to garner more laughs than thrills. But they are a good lead into a coming story/idea we are planning to run on CleanTechnica and EV Obsession.
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