Does driving an electric car feel like flying?
Nissan has released a new ad campaign for its Leaf electric car suggesting that—and featuring professional wingsuit flyer Roberta Mancino.
At one point, with the road turning electric blue below and behind the car, the car turns into a wingsuit, allowing Mancino, the driver, to glide down from a cliff, into the city and between buildings, and back calmly into the car for the home stretch.
“This is how driving should feel,” an announcer bellows. “The tech-advanced Nissan Leaf."
The ad, while eye catching in and of itself, falls to some old cliches for advertising electric cars and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for the car. It makes electric cars seem like something foreign and different—which is kind of the opposite of Nissan’s longstanding goal with the redesigned Leaf, in shedding its “EV-ness” and making it more normal.
2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019
It tells very little about the expanded 2019 Nissan Leaf range, which is much improved this year with the introduction of the Plus model. That brings a larger 62-kwh battery pack for a range of up to 226 EPA-rated miles, as opposed to 150 miles from the standard 40-kwh Leaf. And the ad makes no mention of the Plus’ ability to charge to 80 percent in as little as 45 minutes.
The wingsuit hook reminds us of the BladeGlider, Nissan’s lean all-electric sports-car concept that it never built—but did, in 2016, turn into two fully functional BladeGlider prototypes with the help of Williams Advanced Engineering.
It’s not the only Leaf ad to have featured an athlete. Around the time of its original introduction, Nissan featured Lance Armstrong taking a deep breath and celebrating the lack of a tailpipe—for newbies, always a great selling point.
We couldn't resist again showing you this ad released from Audi last month, addressing some EV myths, which appears to connect about electric-vehicle advantages in a more clever, contrarian way. That ad, for the 2019 E-tron SUV, focused around a sleepy potential customer, holding a newspaper as a narrator points out that electric cars aren’t for him, because of range, cold-weather performance, issues with water, charging stations, and performance—all while the things happening in the background show otherwise.
Green Car Reports takes note nearly every time an automaker releases a new electric vehicle ad campaign because there are so few of them. Data updated by the SIerra Club and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) has found that automakers’ spending on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is a very small fraction of that on mainstream vehicles. And Tesla, the automaker selling the most electric cars last year, doesn’t even participate in traditional advertising.
Which approach is better for attracting new buyers to electric vehicles? Please let us know what you think of these two latest ads (and if you agree with our take) in your comments below.