"The way customers choose this vehicle, finance it, use it, and eventually dispose of it will be very, very different so that will require a lot of training. That is why we are being very focused and deliberate in the dealers that we select," Simon Thomas, Nissan's head of sales and marketing in Europe, was quoted as saying by the Automotive News.
The Leaf will be one of the first mass-market electric vehicles (EVs) offered to the world so the interest for it is high, which means the pressure is on to deliver a product that meets or exceeds customer expectations. Nissan will pick dealers with high marks on surveys that measure areas such as employee attitude, overall customer experience and quality of the facility.
"I'm assuming and hoping that our criteria will ensure that we get the cream of the crop," Thomas said. Nissan will also have to worry about the people who buy the Leaf. "We also have to make sure that the right people buy the EV. Perhaps it doesn't suit everybody's lifestyle," Thomas said. "We may tell the customer, 'Look, you'd be better off buying an Altima or a Sentra because your driving patterns are not ideal for this car," agrees Carlos Tavares, Nissan's chairman of the Americas.
Nissan wants to be clear with consumers about the Leaf's benefits and limitations. The car's electric motor promises a 100-mile driving range before its battery pack is empty. For most daily driving needs, this will be enough. But for customers who commute long distances every day or who have no home garage where they can install an electric recharger, the Leaf might not be suitable.
Nissan's first Leaf dealers will be in the UK, Ireland, Monaco, Spain, Portugal and Denmark, with more markets to get the car later. Nissan will start building the Leaf at its plant in Sunderland, England, in 2013.