Leaf or Volt? Ask the average person on the street that question, and you might get a response acknowledging that you’re talking about plug-in electric vehicles. Ask for more detail, and you may well be disappointed. Despite the many differences between the two vehicles, some simple and obvious, others subtle and complex, it’s unlikely that the average consumer is going to be able to tell you much about them. Why? Because chances are, your randomly-selected consumer doesn’t even know who makes which car. Automotive News [sub] reports that a Compete, Inc study shows
a little more than 17 percent of consumers polled knew that Nissan sells the Leaf. Another 13 percent incorrectly believed the car is offered by other brands, including Chevrolet and Toyota.
The Volt fared better. The study found that 45 percent of shoppers identified it as a Chevrolet.
Yowza. Considering that Nissan is betting bigger on EVs than any other manufacturer in the business, selling the only pure EV on the market and ramping up to 500k annual units of global battery production capacity, it needs to get on top of this branding awareness issue yesterday. Because as things stand, Nissan is making a gigantic global gamble only to find Chevrolet and Toyota stealing nearly as much credit for the Leaf as consumers give Nissan itself (13% versus 17%… what’s wrong with that picture?). Ads like this one are a good start, but Nissan needs to do more to ignore the Volt and make itself synonymous with pure-electric cars the way Toyota made itself synonymous with hybrids.