Remember how we found out a few weeks ago that some Nissan dealers in the U.K. were blissfully unaware of specifics of Nissan's first publicly sold production electric car?
According to the dealers we spoke to, the 2011 Nissan Leaf would charge to full in ten minutes, would not be eligible for purchase assistance grants or credits and was only being sold because governments around the world were forcing Nissan to.
But as we soon found out, the dealer we spoke to had yet to be trained on Nissan's eco-baby. Why?Nissan doesn't plan to train every dealer from the first day.
It makes sense really. Training up sales teams is a costly business. In addition to being familiar with the car's features, sales teams need to know how the car works and to be able to fully demonstrate the car on test-drives.
For most new car models, the most a dealer has to deal with is perhaps fuel economy figures and new stereo features. But the 2011 Nissan leaf requires more training. For a start, most dealers will have little experience of electric drive-trains and will require extensive training to enable them to explain to customers just how the Leaf works.
According to the U.K. Nissan spokesperson we talked to, approximately 30 dealers across the U.K. will be trained as Nissan Leaf specialists. A similar proportion of dealers in the U.S. will be trained as specialists.
Approved Nissan Leaf specialist dealers will be fully trained on the Leaf, including servicing and sales staff within each flagship dealership.
Dealers which do not become leaf specialists at this time will be given a number of cards to hand out to customers, including key facts and where interested customers can go for more information. As the car become more popular, expect more dealers to be trained on Leaf sales and servicing.
At the moment, our contact told us that those wishing to find out more about the 2011 Nissan Leaf should visit the 2011 Leaf website at www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/ to find their local Nissan specialist.
The way Nissan plans to train up its sales team is not that different from previous electric car roll-outs.
When GM leased its EV1 a select sales team of Saturn employees were trained up as EV1 specialists. Similarly when Toyota launched its Prius in the U.S. market ten years ago, a handful of dealers were chosen to start selling the hybrid car before a national roll-out began.
2011 Nissan Leaf
At the end of the day, good customer experience is essential to help boost sales and brand reputation.
As for the price gouging some folks are reporting from Nissan dealers across the U.S? At the moment Nissan hasn't commented, but our advice is this.
Bargain, bargain, bargain. And make sure you know where your local Leaf Specialists are.