Nissan Foolishly Thinks It Can Steal Model 3 Clients with New LEAF Ad

Nissan LEAF ad 1 photo
Photo: Nissan
Even though it hasn't even launched yet - and it most likely won't for the next 18 months - everybody wants a piece of the Tesla Model 3. Whether you're a luxury carmaker or the manufacturer of the world's best-selling EV, the Model 3 is the car to beat.
Those 400,000 and counting reservations have everyone baffled: nobody thought something like this would ever be possible, let alone for an electric car. In just a few years, Tesla has been able to build such a solid brand image that people trust that, when the time comes, the Palo Alto company will deliver. And that's despite the recent problems the Model X is facing.

It almost seems unthinkable that someone would rather make a deposit and wait for one and a half years to get their car when they can instantly buy a different model. This kind of adhesion to one brand wasn't something the automotive industry was familiar with, but there's a simple explanation for that: cars didn't use to be this far apart regarding performance. Traditional cars used to differ more in design, interior and, maybe, handling; with Tesla, you get something nobody else is currently offering: the largest electric range and a network of superchargers built just for you.

And there's another thing: I'm willing to bet that at least 95 percent of those who paid $1,000 for a new Model 3 already own at least one vehicle (be it electric or otherwise), so they can afford to wait just fine. As for the actual deposit, this was a very smart move from Musk: the sum is so tiny, it immediately convinced those who were maybe having some second thoughts about taking the pledge.

The company that's probably most upset and worried about the turn of events is Nissan. Its CEO, Carlos Ghosn, publicly welcomed the Model 3, saying they finally have some "good competition," but we can spot a PR statement when we see one. Nissan LEAF has been the best selling EV ever since it first came out (and, overall, it still holds the largest number of sales), but if you add all of them up, you still don't get to 400,000. So, how should we put this? Maybe the Model 3 will be more than just "good competition."

Besides, just because they're electric, doesn't mean they're direct competitors. The only thing linking the two right now is the price, but other than that, the Model 3 will be in a different (larger) segment, will have a longer range, and will offer various technologies as well as a top-quality interior. The current Nissan LEAF is losing ground, with sales down by 42.8 percent in the US during last year. And look at it: that's not really a car you desperately want. Its saving grace was that it used to be the best option for anybody interested in an EV.

Now that the future isn't very bright for Nissan's electric hatchback, the Japanese brand has started a new campaign that is clearly aimed at the Model 3. The ad - which featured in today's New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal - reads like this: "No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today," goes the headline. "Why wait when you can drive an all-electric LEAF now? And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?"

I think we all know the answer to that question. Nissan needs to wake up and come up with a new, better and visually compelling LEAF, or its record for the number of EVs sold isn't going to last for much longer.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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