When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

Nissan eyes mass market for Leaf

Nissan is preparing a major push for its Leaf electric car brand in a bid to take advantage of an expected surge in demand for electrical vehicles over the next ten years. 

Nissan Leaf

Ahead of a “mass market campaign” in the next two years, a CRM drive will target two distinct audiences with an email and direct campaign created by TMW.

“Green” consumers will receive messaging about the car’s zero emissions, high speed and charging options, while a “tech” audience will be targeted with messaging about the Leaf’s “unique” technology including its integrated navigation and telematics system and smartphone app that lets drivers pre-set the car’s heating and air-conditioning as well as plan journeys before they get into the car.

Yasmin Al Jeboury, Nissan CRM manager, told Marketing Week that the CRM campaign and recent social media activity for Leaf provides the information needed “to build up a much bigger strategy in future for when we do go mass market with this car.”

“We’re making a massive investment and this is going to be a big volume line. It’s not a niche model it’s a family car and that’s what will make it successful. [electric cars] have to do what normal cars do - that’s sometimes forgotten with other electric vehicles and marketing that’s out there,” she says.

The fledgling electric vehicles market saw just 471 new pure-electric cars registered in the year to May, down 7.5% from 509 in the same period in 2011, according to SMMT figures, but the market is expected to grow incrementally as more models become available.

The SMMT expects electric vehicles to take five or 10 years to reach mass market share of around 30 of 40%.

Nissan sees the Leaf, which launched in 2011, as a mass market vehicle and aims to be rolling out 10,000 cars in the next 18 months to two years.

Readers' comments (6)

  • The way forward is certainly in electric vehicles but why are they so ugly? The Japanese ones look as if they have been designed by people with sight problems.

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  • The next 10 years belong to range extender cars. Mass market electric cars are at least 10yrs away and IMO this is far too early to spend much money marketing such a niche and compromised car. Its current sales show how miniscule the market is. It's just far far too early for major marketing expenditure on electric cars.

    Autocar found the range, in winter to be something like 50miles! Until battery tech is considerably more advanced these are a niche product only.

    Save your money Nissan and spend it on your main sellers.

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  • I cant wait to buy a all electric car,and just three things are important, 1, Battery range must be 100miles. 2, Price must be cheap to buy. 3, Must look at least normal. After 100miles a small engine keeps car going electrically for at least another 150miles.
    That would sweep all other cars off the market !!

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  • The best marketing move Nissan could make right now is to make the Leaf less ugly! Maybe that thing looks "cool" in other countries.

    Agree with the post that said the all-electric is not ready for prime-time, the principal problem being battery technology.

    The Chevy Volt interests me a lot - a good transition from all gas cars to all electric.

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  • I gotta laugh. Take advantage of the surge? What surge? They sold like 300 Leafs last month, with a freaking government subsidy!

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  • I've been a delighted Leaf owner for more than a year, and I have to say that we couldn't be happier with the car. For short and medium distance travel, it's simply ideal.

    What it's not idea for is longer journeys, as it has a shorter range than most petrol or diesel cars, and the charging infrastructure is not yet robust enough to rely upon the availability of rapid chargers en route (though it's getting better, and it's nearly there).

    As for ugliness, that's in the eye of the beholder. Very few people even notice my Leaf, until they suddenly realise there's something missing - the noise and smell of a petrol car. Personally I find it quirky - I wasn't keen at first, but now I've grown to love it.

    As for winter range... I don't know how they achieved that figure, I can only assume it's a deliberately worst-case. Range drops a bit in the cold, sure, but driving at A-road speeds in temperatures of around -5°C last winter, we got around 75 miles range with the heater on a comfortable level. If we preheated the cabin before leaving, we got another five to eight miles before warning levels. In comparison, in summer, doing town driving in built up areas (30MPH limit), I've achieved a range of 123 miles.

    Basically, it absolutely is ready for prime-time: it's a great tool **for a particular job**. If that's the job you need to do, as it is in our case, it's great. If it doesn't match your needs, then that's fine - nobody is saying that you *have* to buy an electric car. Buy one if it suits you - and the Leaf is a good one - but don't if it doesn't.

    Personally, I'm very glad I did. (For the record, I'm not directly or indirectly in the pay of Nissan or any subsidiary thereof. I am, however, a volunteer moderator at www.leaftalk.co.uk .)

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