Is The 2011 Nissan Leaf The Truly Invisible Electric Car?


2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

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After three weeks of using our new 2011 Nissan Leaf for most of our local commuting, it has a valued and important place in our two-car family.  We appreciate the driving economy and features of the car.

But it has been shocking how little notice the car has received.  

As one of the first half-dozen Leafs in the greater Sacramento area, I would have expected it to draw more attention--but I can testify that it has been almost invisible.

Synonyms for the Leaf? Bland, nondescript, innocuous, tepid, Q-ship, subtle, plain, banal, blah, boring, dull, flat, flavorless, ho-hum, insipid, tame, unexciting, uninspiring, unstimulating, vanilla, vapid, zero, Leaf.

I wish I could say otherwise, but maybe this is what Nissan wanted?  The car simply “is,” and it makes no public statement of its presence.  To my neighbors, it is just another small hatchback.

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

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However, was this really what Nissan expected of the Leaf design?  I believe that such cutting-edge technology should be presented with more distinctive introductory visual cues.

The Toyota Prius hybrid has brand cachet because of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system, and because it makes a strong and obvious visual statement of its presence.  Every Prius sold is a visual advertisement that lets potential buyers notice that the car is available, that others are driving it already.  

The Leaf is simply not being seen, even when it has a prominent place in the mall parking lot.  It is simply too generic a design for a product that almost single-handed is creating the new battery-electric vehicle segment.

What do you think about the Nissan Leaf's exterior design: generic, or genuine?

Give us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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