Hybrid vehicles have been on the roads for a few years now and offered better fuel economy with their combustion engine/electric engine combination. The most notable early examples were the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, still big names in the hybrid world. More recently we’ve seen competition come in with cars like the Chevrolet Volt from the US.
The Volt was one of General Motors most popular contributions to the hybrid family and even had a spot in Michael Bay’s Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Hybrids have been the ‘go to’ as an alternative to the standard petrol or diesel motor partly because the viability of full hydrogen or electric cars, just didn’t quite work. This was however until Nissan brought the Leaf to the table. Electric cars preceded the Leaf but no production model has ever been pushed so hard. With Nissan being keen to get their new all-electric baby out in the open, they haven’t been afraid to step on a few toes and their latest TV spot is a perfect example of this.
Nissan’s most recent Leaf ad poses the question “What if everything ran on gas?”. Set in a world where everything from your alarm clock to your MP3 player needs to be filled up at the pump to keep going, they even blatantly throw the glove down with a shot held on GM’s Chevy Volt getting some fuel whilst it’s owner longingly gazes over at a shiny new Nissan Leaf. The Volt, having that traditional combustion engine, kicks in after the first 35 miles are spent running on full electric power. With both a full tank of gas and a full charge the Volt gets about a 300 mile range. What plagues most all-electric cars with the limitations of modern technology is that same issue of range. A car like the Leaf only has a maximum range of 100 miles on a full charge and unlike a conventional car you can’t just fill up at the plug point, a complete charge of your Leaf could take anything up to 5 hours.
The ad however doesn’t point this fact out and you only ever really see it in a city setting where such limitations wouldn’t be felt, quite as hard. The Leaf outsold the Volt for the first time this April, where sales previously had been small and slow to kick off. Now however, Nissan are promoting aggressive expansion of the Leaf to meet, what has become, heavy demand for the all-electric creation.
A 2011 Nissan Leaf can be yours for $32,780 whereas the Volt costs just under $10,000 more ($41,000). What all-electric car makers like Nissan hope for is that customers see that the economical gains of their new vehicles are more appealing than the physical limitations currently experienced by them. In the US at least, electric car buyers qualify for a federal tax break to bring the price tag down by a further $7,500, which adds a little more appeal to an already intriguing package. The Leaf’s all-electric system provides drivers with an equivalent 99 mpg (miles per gallon) to the Volt’s 93. Does all this sway you towards an electric future on the roads or are you a petrol-head through and through? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments.