By on May 27, 2011

After the zusammenhang of the bailout era, green car ads have juiced up the competitive battles in automotive marketing, with Chevy attacking “range anxiety,” Hyundai wrangling the asterisks and now, Nissan busting the Volt’s chops for enjoying the odd sip of gasoline. After leading off its Leaf marketing effort with a saccharine ad featuring a polar bear driven by global warming from his arctic home, Nissan is getting back on track by bashing its highest-profile competitor… and given that the EV market is still dependent on early-adopters in search of EV purity, the attack is a fairly shrewd one. Eventually the market will be less hung up on the novelty of pure-electric cars and will look at overall efficiency and capability. For the time being, however, Nissan’s got to make the most of its unmatched gamble on the pure electric car. Watch the ad after the jump

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36 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Volt Gets Gassy Edition...”


  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Even as someone who prefers he Volt over the Leaf, good commercial.
    I think at this junction, GM’s decision to not go with a full EV was a good one until the electric car “pardigm” is changed. And if you go over to the Volt website and read real world experiences with current Volts owners you will find that, yes, they absolutely hate stopping at a gas station. So commercial is dead on with the Volt owner frowning while filling up. I hope both cars and those that follow are huge successes. In the end it’s the best thing for the US.

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      what is a pardigm?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      “And if you go over to the Volt website and read real world experiences with current Volts owners you will find that, yes, they absolutely hate stopping at a gas station. ”

      Hell, at $4+/gal in the Communist State of Kalifornia, *I* absolute hate stopping at a gas station, and I don’t even own a Volt.

      Still, they’re only topping off once a month, whereas I’m filling up every couple weeks.

      But yeah, I get that stopping by a gas station is a jarring break from the things the normally just don’t do on a regular basis.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      http://www.automotiveworld.com/news/powertrain/84211-the-challenges-of-micro-turbine-hybrids

      Bladon Jets’ microturbine for the Jag concept car is claimed to be 3kg. So, using that, building a hitchable/towable auxiliary genset SHOULD be doable within 50kg, fuel included.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    This ad is particularly funny, especially the dentist. :-D

  • avatar

    Clever, but I bet the coal plant at the other end of that EV charging station at the end pumps out more CO2 than all those “dramatized” devices shown the 45 seconds before you see the Volt.

    Each KWh of coal power results in (on average) 950g of CO2.
    The LEAF is rated at 34KWh per 100 miles, or 0.34KWh/mile.
    Assuming charged from a 100% average coal-powered grid, LEAF = 323g CO2 per mile.

    Interesting, then, that the VW Passat TDI is rated at 175g CO2 per KM, or 108g of CO2 per mile. I’m sure my math isn’t statistical mastery, but I doubt I’m more than 3X off, here.

    EVs are only as clean as the grids that power them. The US still gets 65% of it’s electrical power from coal and natural gas (51% and 15%, respectively), and these two sources are responsible for 95% of all CO2 emissions from electrical power generation (which is the single greatest source of CO2 emissions in the country).

    Shame they just, ya know, forget to point that out. If I were a passionate environmentalist, I’d be outraged. Unless you’re certain your EV is charged from renewable, clean sources, all you’re doing is passing the buck…

    • 0 avatar

      assuming your numbers are correct, it’s probably more fair to base the calculation on the fact that half of all power generated in the US is coal, but that you still have some oil, and a lot of natural gas plants. By that metric, the Leaf could be spewing ~220g co2 per KM. The Prius is probably doing significantly better than the TDI (diesel fuel has a lot more carbon per gallon than gasoline). So, in terms of greenhouse emissions, the Prius beats the Leaf, on average. In terms of geopolitics, the leaf is better.

      I do like the ad.

    • 0 avatar

      Pure Electric vehicles on the market now are among the biggest polluters on the market now when you factor in the mining and energy required behind the scenes. Just transmitting electricity over powerlines results in thermodynamic losses which means they will NEVER be as efficient as just using gasoline in an efficient 4 cylinder car.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Do NOT look behind the curtain. Ignore the man behind the curtain!

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        “Just transmitting electricity over powerlines” is 95-96% efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you are referring to the inherent inefficiency in the generation of electricity, not the transmission. Yes, more than half of the energy input as fuel is wasted as lost heat compared to the electric output. As pointed out above, electrical transmission is pretty damn efficient…I would like to see a “well to wheel” analysis of gas cars vs electric…

        The ad is great, but when push comes to shove, the Volt (price aside for the moment) is more useful to your typical motorist. Multi car family? I’d bet the Leaf would serve just fine. And I will attest to the various advantages to having more cars than drivers in a household. But for most, the Volt makes more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I’d be curious where the Honda Civic GX lands on these calculations assuming the compressed methane is produced in North America and transported in the US/Canada network of pipelines.

      Right now EVs are charged at night using the power plants that supply the base load. That’s coal and nuclear in the center of the US. Natural gas is more expensive than coal so it’s used to meet peak demand and to get around local air quality restrictions. Some areas with both abundant rainfall and elevation change get to use hydroelectric. Nobody burns expensive oil to make electricity except for refinery leftovers.

      • 0 avatar

        the baseload night time charging would likely be nuclear whee there’s enough of it

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        Cost isn’t the only reason that coal is used for base load – it takes a long time to ramp output from a coal fired plant up and down, so the coal fired plants are used to supply base load.

        Natural gas plants ramp up and down more quickly, and thus can be used for peak load.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @DR1665, 175 g/km is actually 280 g/mi — multiply by 1.6, don’t divide. But that’s admittedly still less than your calculated Leaf CO2 emissions.

      @David, In Europe the manufacturers publish the CO2 figures in addition to fuel economy so no additional adjustments need to be made for burning diesel vs gasoline.

  • avatar
    Dekinorman

    I’m pretty sure that a mile is longer than a kilometer, so 175g CO2 per KM is more like 280g/mile. And if you divide the coal plant emissions by 65% (percentage of coal power), you get the leaf at around 210g/mile. So maybe it does come out ahead in this metric, even in a country where coal is the predominant source of electricity.
    And I’d really like a gas powered ipod!

    • 0 avatar

      A KM is 5/8 of a mile, and your 175g/km = 280g/mile is spot on. Coal is actually ~50% of US power. But oil and natural gas are another 25 percent or so, which probably means your figure for the Leaf is still about right.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The Volt gets gassy? I’m often quite gassy…

    Seriously though, the Ad men will do everything to make their product the greatest thing since sliced bread. Too much potential money at stake.

    Honestly, I see a niche for all the emerging technology – it’s what will eventually fall off the radar and doesn’t prove usable in the real world that is the unknown factor at present.

    These vehicles certainly change a paradigm, and it’s up to the market – and maybe governments – to prove these technologies either way.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    @ DR1665 – If your gonna talk about the carbon footprint to produce electricty you better also figure in the carbon footprint to get that gallon of gas or diesel fuel(even larger) into your gas tank.

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      Oil refineries need a huge quantity of energy.
      I heard that you need at least 2 gallons of oil to produce 1 gallon of gas. So you need to double all of your numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      Tortoiseme

      Ironically, Canadian oilsands also use vast amount of electricity to separate the oil from the bitumen.
      Picking a single occupant mode of transportation is likely a zero sum game in the end.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    As much as I like the Leaf, I guess we’re supposed to forget that every other Nissan product runs on fuel.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “I heard that you need at least 2 gallons of oil to produce 1 gallon of gas. So you need to double all of your numbers.”

    Yep and once it’s refined it doesn’t arrive at your local gas station on a “magic carpet”. And then there’s also that issue of an ICE engine being 30% effcient while an electric motor is 90%. But hey I’m sure if we just drive efficient 4 cylinder cars and look the other way long enough, all the issues related to our dependance on imported oil will just go away.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    zOMG……..VoLtS can run on the fuels too!!!

    Ok people…move along…nothing to see here…except another (weak) shot at GM.

  • avatar

    So you all do know that there’s no reason why the Volt couldn’t be converted to run on natural gas (Which is cheap, fairly easy to find, very low emission and American/Canadian made), which would cut out the middleman, right?

    Let’s face it. Gasoline and Diesel are on their way out, and it will probably happen within our lifetimes. Natural gas is a great way to ease the transition. Not only that, but if we really want to be green, we should be focusing on rail and stop eating so much beef.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Okay, so coal is dirtier than diesel… but… we don’t buy coal from Saudi Arabia or other Muslim terrorist sponsors… so, domestic electricity sales mean money in OUR pockets, not the pockets of Al-Qaeda…

  • avatar

    I like the ad. It’s funny. And most of all, I admire the gumption it took to run it. As Gslippy intimated, all other Nissan products run on gas or possibly diesel. In the companies I made ads for, this ad would have been applauded, but killed, because “gentlemen, we still have product that runs on gasoline.”

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Till I can park anywhere and have a charging station like he does in the commercial, I am not interested in a Leaf.


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