Nissan Goes Gas Powered, Attacks Chevy Volt in New Leaf Advert (VIDEO)

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Imagine a world where electricity didn’t power your Television, your iPod or your computer. And then imagine a world where you had a single cylinder combustion engine powering your cellphone and your dentist used a gasoline-powered drill to drill that cavity. 

That’s the ‘What-if?’ scenario being played out by Nissan in its latest TV ad for the 2011 Nissan Leaf, turning everyday objects we power with electricity into gas-guzzling, polluting monstrosities. 

Naturally, its the absurdity of the 60-second advert which gives Nissan a moral high horse on which to ask the viewer to imagine a world where everything was powered by gasoline - and then a world where nothing was, but we can’t help but notice a sly below-the-belt punch aimed squarely in the direction of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

2011 Nissan Leaf Ad pokes Fun at

2011 Nissan Leaf Ad pokes Fun at

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Just as Nissan’s voice-talent of choice Robert Downey, Jr. delivers the advert’s damning verdict on a gasoline-powered world the video cuts to a shot of the now frustrated main character who has spent the entire advert using gasoline-powered gadgets filling up his 2011 Chevrolet Volt Plug-in Hybrid at the gas station. 

He is of course, jealously looking across the street as the squeaky-clean Nissan Leaf driver unplugs his car from its charging station and drives off. 

It’s a quirky, neat advert which made us laugh, but really Nissan - did you have to go that low? In case you hadn’t remembered, the Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in car too and one which by all accounts spends a lot less time at the gas station than you would like us to think. 

Funny advert or just a cheap shot at Nissan’s rivals? Let us know in the Comments below.


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Comments (29)
  1. I haven't had the opportunity to view the advert yet. But frankly I say more power to Nissan. While I DO somewhat applaud GM for the Volt, I still feel GM isn't completely committed to the EV concept. They seem to want to pretend they are headed in that direction, but given the slightest chance to back away they're back building SUV's (anyone remember that EV1 thingy??). Their slogan for the Volt is bad enough: "More car than electric" ... it practically sounds like an apology. Like "we really didn't mean to make an electric car ... the government made us do it ... we promise we won't do it again." So if Nissan grills them on the Volt being an EVREV instead of a BEV, then I say that's more than fair; not to mention entirely truthful.

  2. Good ad, I like ads that make a point with a little humor.

  3. I'm not going to buy a Nissan in this life or the next. Next case.

  4. I like to think that the VOLT has just driven to Denver, Co. from Houston, Tx. and the Leaf just left the house. Yea, we might use SOME gas when we need to, but at leaf-st I can get where I'm going!!!!!!!!! (With out being towed to recharge) see other posts on this website........... By the way, I want a Volt and a Leaf, I like them both!

  5. A rising tide floats all the boats, and the more electric cars out there the better. I read of Volt drivers logging close to 1000 miles per tank, so the Volt really is mostly an electric car. I am getting my LEAF this July, and though it works for me, I can see how it wouldn't for a majority of US drivers, and if these things catch on there will be more public charge points, which will make electric cars practical for more people. Funny ad though.

  6. @Doug Marker; I think you nailed it there.

  7. FUNNY! :) the only way it could be better is if it had a hummer instead of a volt to really hit home the point.

  8. Definitely funny. :)

  9. I would say that the advert provided a much deserved jab at the General given their more subtle digs at the Leaf ("a big step up from a leaf blower") and "range anxiety"/"more car than electric" campaign. IMHO it is high time that Nissan went on the offensive and highlight the basic difference between the two vehicles: the Leaf will never use a drop of gasoline. All is fair in love and advertising.

  10. I drive a round trip every day of 120 miles total. The leaf is not for me. Maybe when it gets at lease 150 miles per charge.

  11. A take off of the PSAs created by PIA (Plug-In America), which they have commented on on their own website. Thought they were clever then and they are just a clever now. Got to force it home to the general public about the drawbacks of a gasoline based economy.

  12. Great ad. Yes it certainly took ques from the PIA advertizement, then took it one step further.
    @Stan's Volt:
    Wow that is a long commute, you are in the 10th percentile of commuters. I am not sure what you are commuting in now, but if it was a F150 you would be spending $30 a day in fuel, $606 a month. Even in a Volt it would cost $11 per day,$220 per month. It would cost $3.60 in a Leaf. You could certainly drive a Leaf to work. You would get there with about 45%-50% of a battery. Plug in, then leave with 100% battery (even charging at 110V you could get back that commute in the 8 hours you are at work).
    You would arrive home with 50% of a battery left, pleanty of charge for side trips that might come up.

  13. to Turbofroggy,
    I drive 120 miles round trip, but only visit my property for an hour. So, not enough time to charge at 8 hours @ 110 V or even three hours @ 220V. The gas I use is only 1.6 gals each day for the extra 53 miles. Weekends, mostly electric. 20 days each month total 32 gals used @ $4.00 =$138.00 mo. Not bad at all. I see your point, but not for me unless I can buy a level III charger for my volt and install it at my work property.

  14. Leaf owners will also miss that traditional new-car monthly maintenance check-ups and the $75 to the dealer. ICEs are getting too complicated. An EV with an ICE lacks confidence in America's ability to provide charging stations. What will gas stations do when we are all driving EVs? Convert !!!

  15. We have ordered a Leaf and are applying for a small grant to put a solar system on our roof.... hope to drop our electric bill by 50% so the 15-20% increase from charging our Leaf is completely absorbed. Would like to see a "paste on" solar system for the roof of our Leaf to help add some distance. Plus looking forward to new better and cheaper batteries in the near future! Question how about a little diesel 2cylinder motor that would allow 200+ mpg?

  16. The only justification for building as complicated and crappy looking a vehicle as the Volt was to
    avoid the high cost of batteries. Unfortunately, the Volt ain't exactly cheap, although it certainly looks that way. Batteries are obviously getting better and, more importantly, cheaper, making the Volt, at best, a marginal player on the edge of obsolesence. I simply refuse to buy anything as Rube Goldbergish as the Volt. Besides, it's not as though a million Volts on the road will have any noticeable effect on anything. I see that taxpayers have sunk $105 billion into just GM alone. That's $60 billion in shares and $45 billion in future tax writeoffs.
    GM will NEVER pay a dime in Federal taxes.

  17. To Mac:
    I think that your "new better and cheaper batteries in the near future", that may allow zero gallons per mile, but many more miles per full charge (perhaps 400 to 500?), are a better idea than the "little diesel 2cylinder motor that would allow (even only) 200+" miles per gal. (of dirty fossil fuel, diesel or not).
    400 to 500 miles allows a good day's trip. If Tesla's Model S sedan can expect 300 mile range, how far is that, given research in progress on things like cars with lightweight bodies of carbon nanotubes (with slightly roughened interior surfaces) that provide electron-storage spaces for batteries that have greatly increased capacity?

  18. Nissan should concentrate on trying to make cars rather than trying to compare themselves to other plug-ins. Once Nissan finally is capable of making electric cars in actual numbers, then they can try to compare themselves to cars that many people consider to be more logical alternatives.

  19. Wow! Great ad! It's really aimed at the whole auto gas-guzzling industry, with a slight shot at GM for not getting on with a real electric car. If Tesla can go 350 miles before recharge, why can't the Volt and the Leaf??? The big guys don't have the same battery tech as the new guy on the block? I don't think so! So why are they BOTH hedging? Where is the REAL all electric mass produced car?

  20. well Sir the PRICE is the problem. the Tesla costs a hundred thousand dollars. which means more money to put more battery power in it. then you have Nissan only a 24KW battery which still costs atleast $10,000 now if they put more batteries it means less cargo room and an added 600 lbs of weight worse handling. so the engineers have to go with the perfect balance scenario. This was it with the tech that we have. The volt is a great idea however they didnt do it right. they engine should not in anyway be connected to the tires. the engine should only act as a generator to charge the batteries as they deplete to say 20%. this would equal higher efficiency. The engine would only rev to a constant rpm as well. so wait EV's will get there.

  21. Good ad. I can't afford the Volt plus I already have two nice gas-powered vehicles (one older gas guzzler and one newer van) I'm planning to keep. When is the LEAF coming to Georgia because I'm getting impatient :-(

  22. To be honest the leaf is in its infancy stage, but it is definitely worth it. We all know that any car that uses a drop of gasoline will enviously take jabs at an all electric vehicle. A solar panel roof,rear trunk or front hood would be real cool and practical for the leaf.

  23. The Volt is a practical compromise between all electric and gas power.
    Until an actual range of say 150 miles per charge is achieved at a price most drivers can afford the Volt approach makes most sense.
    I think Nissan is just trying to cope with range anxiety

  24. Kent , "crappy looking a vehicle" I lot of people like the look of the Volt. AS Keith said above the Volt is a practical comprise. For most people, the majority of their driving will be completely electric, but still have the ability to go where and when they want to go. I like EVs, but lets be honest at this point the range and charging ability don't make them a practical care for a lot of people in a one car household.

  25. Good attention grabber. Would be even more effective to see some pics of the Alberta Tar Sands, leaking pipelines, oil refineries bellowing out emissions, melting glaciers/icecaps, floods, tornados, hurricanes to depict the current reality trends and show EVs as being the viable, healthier alternative to the status quo. THAT would be a good ad.While I applaud Nissan for going farther than GM in mass producing the LEAF, a car company that manufactures a full fleet of EVs (like Tesla) deserve greater praise. Gets people thinking about it. That's always good.

  26. To me they are both good cars serving different customer requirements.Quick question, where does the raw material for the batteries come from? I've read its trading one type of pollution for another.

  27. It's a good ad but I would still rather have a Volt. I live 5 miles from where I work so I can easily make it there and back on electricity. But I live over 100 miles from my parents and I visit them twice a month. It would take me nearly a whole day to do that trip in a Leaf.

  28. The video doesn't play any more--says it's "private."

  29. @Steve: We've swapped in another copy of the video. The page should update within half an hour.

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