Nissan, the actual pioneer in mass-production of electric vehicles (EV) released a new ad campaign this week trolling Tesla for its expected two-year production “delay” for consumers who ordered a Model 3. Nissan’s electric Leaf has taken out several advertisements poking at Tesla for its promise to get vehicles out to consumers a full two or three years after customers reserved a place in line.
“No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today,” proclaims a Nissan ad that appeared around the USA this week. The ads appear in Friday’s New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. They remind consumers that Nissan has the mass-production experience that Tesla is just a newbie at, since it’s been selling the all-electric Leaf since 2010.
Conversely, the Model 3 is not promised to market until late 2017 and delays may make its official delivery date sometime in 2018. The delays don’t seem to be bothering American consumers. More than 300,000 people have paid the $1,000 reservation price to stand in line for a shot at bringing home the Model 3.
Nissan pointed out that the leaf is not only less expensive than the Model 3 – starting at just $22,360 – but also they immediately qualify for the $7,500 federal EV purchase credit. “Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Leaf now?” Nissan asks in the ads. “And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?”
Although consumers are not solely motivated by the tax credit, many consumers are going to be left out in the cold by the time they get their Model 3s, since the tax credits phase out once a certain number of vehicles are sold. Tesla’s per-ordders have already exceeded that amount. Although the interest is impressive to be sure, many consumers will not be amused when they loose the opportunity to get the purchase credit.
Nissan investing $5 billion during the past eight years to produce EV battery modules and cars on three continents. Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn., produces Leafs, giving the product some made-in-America cred. The Leaf has been a bust in the American market, since Nissan had high expectations for the car, believing they would sell 150,000 a year. But interest never materialized, in part due to the low price of oil and lack of “sizzle” that some younger customers clearly crave.
Leaf sales actually dropped in 2015 by more than 43%, only mustering a little over 17,000 cars sold in the United States. In recognition of the Leaf’s precarious position, Nissan wisely decided to try to capitalize on the fascination with the Model 3 with some fun in the advertising space. The company has also tried to win customers over with a deal on the newest Leaf, which can be purchased with a 0 percent APR for up to 72 months. In addition, Nissan is offering a $4,000 factory cash back for qualified buyers and the promise of the EV purchase credit.