Nissan wants Tesla Model 3 reservation holders to buy LEAFs, launches new ad campaign

nissan ad

There’s no denying that the Model 3 is already having an important impact on the auto industry even 18 months before it is set to enter production. The staggering number of reservations it received is sending a clear message to the industry that there’s demand for a compelling long-range electric car in the mid-luxury market.

Apparently, Nissan thinks that the LEAF fits the bill. Don’t get me wrong, the LEAF is an interesting car, but it is also the same price as the Model 3, clearly not a mid-luxury vehicle and the current version shouldn’t be considered “long-range”.

Nonetheless, Nissan just launched a new national ad campaign with a clear goal to try to convince some of the close to 400,000 Model 3 reservation holders to buy LEAFs instead.

The ad (above and full version below) reads:

“Why wait when you can drive an all-electric LEAF now? And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?”

It’s a direct attack on Tesla’s Model 3 reservation process which requires a $1,000 deposit and to stand in line at its retail locations during the first day.

The Japanese automaker spent a lot of money on this campaign. According to Autonews, the ads appear in Friday’s New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s the ad:

nissan ad 2

Nissan really needs this campaign to work. LEAF sales were down 42.8% in the US in 2015 versus 2014. Sales have been steadily declining as the vehicle launched in 2010 so badly needs a refresh.

I suppose it’s a fair attempt by the automaker, but somehow I doubt that anyone who placed a reservation for the Model 3 didn’t know of the existence of the LEAF prior to doing so. I don’t see how this effort will change their minds. Maybe get an electric lease until the Model 3 is available?

Either way, it plays right into Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of electric transport as it appears that the Model 3’s success as pushed Nissan to spend more money advertising its electric vehicles.

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  1. Alpha - 7 years ago

    Well I’ve got a major reservation about buying a heap of junk that looks like a goldfish bowl and has no style

    • Jeff - 7 years ago

      Have you driven one ? I bet not. Are you in the market for a BEV, I bet not. So your opinion is without merit.

      • Kush - 7 years ago

        Driving it won’t change its looks.

      • Alpha - 7 years ago

        hey Shit for Brains I don’t need to drive one to comment on whether something looks well designed or not. Am in the market for a BEV.. YES Thats why im in the queue for a T3. The LEAF has been available for years. If I wanted a third rate piece of engineering I guess the Leaf is what i’d buy hmmm or maybe wait for the bolt

      • The dude - 7 years ago

        I have, and the leaf does suck. Overpriced crap like always, glad to see Tesla pushing the industry forward. But I guess you would see that

  2. johnny - 7 years ago

    look at that UMF in the photo.. they shouldn’t have put a photo of the car in the first place if they wanted the ad has had whatever effect

  3. danursu2014 - 7 years ago

    Too bad it’s ugly, has small range and is not a solid attempt at an EV. Otherwise I’d buy it 🙂

  4. Electric Feel - 7 years ago

    Why wait? Because range and design.

  5. md - 7 years ago

    This would be somewhat relevant if it was the 2018 or whatever the next gen 160 mi model.

  6. amp - 7 years ago

    I will keep my 3 reservation thanks … and I have good memories of standing in line for 3 hours in the rain to be a part of history on 3-Day with other Tesla and EV enthusiasts. I wouldn’t be able to say that I did anything particularly historic or groundbreaking if I bought a LEAF. All we need now is for GM to put out an ad saying ‘why wait for the 3 and why tolerate the low range of the LEAF, reserve a Bolt now’. Will be interesting to watch sales numbers this year for both the LEAF and the Bolt (plus the Volt and hybrids). Gas prices are still low and showing no signs of moving dramatically up just yet and many EV/hybrid buyers are now waiting for the real and compelling performance, luxury electric 3 from Tesla or the second best Bolt. Nissan should have put this advertising spend into a next generation LEAF with 200 miles+ range with a refreshed look to compete with the Bolt hatchback.

    • John M. Glennie - 7 years ago

      My local dealer told me a Bolt wouldn’t be available for me in Ontario till late 2018, the same time as a T3, and at more money, I’ll stay with my LEAF and a T3.

  7. Taylor Marks - 7 years ago

    My current car (2004 Buick) is approaching the end of its life. It’s at 190K miles right now. I drive 30K miles per year. Over the last two years I’ve had people tell me it’ll die sometime between 180K and 300K miles. So it’s going to die sometime between now and the end of 2019.

    If I does end up dying before I get my Model 3… I don’t know what I’ll do. I could give it to a scrapyard for $500 then use that + $2500 for a junker to get me around for a few more months… then get my money back on the junker when it’s time to get my Model 3.

    Or I could get a cheap lease, maybe. IDK. I just want my Model 3 to arrive soon enough that I don’t have to make that kind of choice.

    • Charles Jack - 7 years ago

      Taylor, I had a 1993 Riviera bought new and sold after 345,000 mi. FOR $2,500! Its engine was replaced at 186,000 with one from a recycle yard; trans overhauled shortlly after that for less than $3,000. I loved that car – most comfortable ride ever owned. Would have kept it but not practical. New owner felt as I did that it could be a classic. So, baby your ’04 and enjoy your Model 3 — mine’s on order too.

  8. LeafEater - 7 years ago

    I’d thought about LEAFETR as a license plate for the Model 3 that’s lined up to replace my V8 Mustang, but then I thought, “Nah, that’s mean.”

  9. SomeoneElse - 7 years ago

    I think that last line speaks volumes. Nissan’s answer to the model 3 was to spend money on R&D… err… engineering… nope.. oh yea! Advertising!

    • Efe - 7 years ago

      Right in the spot. Nissan spends huge sums in advertising but always skimps on product engineering. A well known fact in the auto industry.

  10. If i wanted to buy a salamander I would go to the pet store.

  11. Gabrielle Lerman - 7 years ago

    The campaign looks good let’s hope it works! Thank you for the news, It was nice to read your article today, so it’s already not something new for me.

  12. Nick - 7 years ago

    Here’s a thought: save the advert dollars and spend it on a decent LONG range sexy EV

  13. quiviran - 7 years ago

    Up to now you had to already know about the Leaf and really want to buy one. Now that Tesla has raised the bar on what $35,000 should buy in the in the EV space, Nissan has realized they have missed the boat and have to go after low information buyers. Kind of like the fossil car industry in general. The game has been changed. To get a $35,000 car out the door, Tesla only has to build a $35,000 car. The fossil car makers have to sell a $35,000 car for $40-45,000 to give them some margin to feed the dealer network. The game has definitely been changed.

    What’s that grinding sound? Just a rusty, old paradigm shifting.

  14. Nøderak - 7 years ago

    And i thought old man Ghosn was a good guy. LEAF sales will probably rebound this quarter or the next, quit sweatin’ it Nissan. Are we sure this isn’t a fake ad put out by an independent agency or GM?

  15. Lycanthrope - 7 years ago

    No sir, I don’t like it!

  16. Rob Barros - 7 years ago

    True to the spirit of this article (and ad pitch), I am in the Tesla 3 reservation queue.

    I am in the market for a car. Is Nissan Leaf a good alternative (that’s available now). So, I went out to the Nissan Leaf web site and seriously looked.

    The Nissan web site left me with the following impressions: Aesthetically: it still looks like most economy cars having come before it. Engineering (first impression), it wasn’t re-engineered. Both front and back seat riders are literally sitting on a pile of batteries. The frunk still contains a motor.

    In the past two years, I have test driven both a Crosstrek and Model S (twice). So, a crossover style vehicle isn’t out of the question.

    Approaching fifty, there is still some excitement about getting behind the wheel… Unfortunately, I see no way for the Leaf to even compare.

    Sorry Nissan, I hope I don’t have to eat these words…

    My rust-bucket will get a little rustier, and Model 3 will be that much more appealing when it arrives.

  17. Kåre Core Lohse - 7 years ago

    Hong Kong has had a “FRT EV exemption” since 1994. That means – no first registration tax at all, on fully electric cars. Depending on the price of the car, this means slashing the price in half, or even less. Nissan was one of the first to the market, but rather than selling thousands of Leafs, they decided to exploit the incentive, and doubled the price of the Leaf. Despite Hong Kong being much closer to Japan than UK is to Japan, Nissan decided to add to the price to the Leaf so they made a fortune on each sold car.

    Difference between Nissan and Tesla: Nissan is there for the money only. Tesla is there to ensure the ICEV->EV transition.

    A lot of disgruntled Leaf owners in Hong Kong now. The original price of the Leaf in Hong Kong was almost the same as en entry level Model S. That’s how insanely overpriced it was. So Nissan slashed the price, down to a fair level, after the right hand drive Model S arrived in Hong Kong, July 2014.

    Finally: Remember this is not a fight between EVs. It’s a fight between fossil fuel and electrons. Lot’s of people will find the Leaf worthy of their needs. But lots of people will also find a significant loss of value in it. Fortunately, Tesla Motors is there to drive the cost of EVs down below ICEVs.

  18. walt - 7 years ago

    The only way I see this ad working (for the impatient) is it may reuslt in a brief uptick in LEAF short term leases for the next few months. Just as the lease expires, the Model 3 should be ariving.

  19. Chard - 7 years ago

    I don’t mind waiting for something I really want compare to getting something that I really don’t like right now!

  20. Chard - 7 years ago

    I rather wait for something that I really like, than getting something that’s available now but really don’t like.

  21. bayrok - 7 years ago

    The 30 kWh Nissan Leaf is a very decent car, with loads of space for five people plus luggage and loads of extras. With an effectively unlimited range – as long as you live in a country that has invested in a decent Chademo rapid charging network. I’ve just switched to the new Leaf from my trusty 2013 model, after 26,000 miles in three very satisfied years. And by doing so I am supporting British workers.

  22. fromNY2LA (@onestopnyc) - 7 years ago

    lol. what’s your range Nissan Leaf?

  23. I really want a Leaf. Lost of people don’t like the look but I love it. The only thing holding me back is the range. Even though the current range is probably just fine for what I need on a daily basis, I don’t want to worry about my range if I have to go somewhere unexpectedly. Although I heard that the Leaf’s batteries will be backwards compatible so the next gen Leafs battery can fit in the current gen. So I can get a cheaper Leaf now and then pay for just the new battery later on.

  24. Benjamin (@NSbenjamins) - 7 years ago

    You know why people are not waiting in line for a nissan leaf? because they are not interested.
    There is nothing with nissan leaf that makes me want to pay $30k.

  25. Louis - 7 years ago

    The Leaf is an ugly Prius and a half hearted attempt to make an EV. I agree that they should’ve used the marketing funds for r & d or better yet to pay a better design team for a vehicle for the mass market not a gimmick.

    • MorinMoss - 7 years ago

      10 yrs ago, the words “ugly Prius” would have been considered redundant – then along came the Leaf.

  26. Kevin - 7 years ago

    This makes me wants to put in a reservation even more really!

  27. brocknanson - 7 years ago

    If Nissan had used their significant design and engineering might to advance the Leaf beyond what it was when it entered the market in 2010, they wouldn’t have to stoop to an advertisement such as this. And no, I don’t consider the slight range increase for 2016 a true ‘advancement’. Great that they took on the EV market as early as they did, but they can’t expect to compete without putting in at least a *little* effort…

    At least it’s clear that the 400,000 reservations have been noted in the Nissan boardroom.

  28. Cristian - 7 years ago

    Let them spend money on advertising instead of engineering and design, and see themselves occupy whatever niche Tesla leaves them after 2018

  29. Miguel Silva - 7 years ago

    I’ve waited 1year for my leaf with a 100€ reservation.

  30. CC - 7 years ago

    I have a Leaf right now and it works for me, but it is not for everyone. They should have use the money to let people who own a Leaf now to upgrade the battery pack when the larger pack is available so I don’t have to worry about the resale value of my Leaf. The 2nd gen is coming with longer range, why waste money advertising, take care of the existing and potential customer.

  31. stupid humans - 7 years ago

    good products do not require salesmen or ad campaigns to convince you.
    If you have to have an advertising campaign to sell it…forget it!
    this reminds me of Zune against the iPod.

  32. Bubba2000 - 7 years ago

    “We don’t make slow cars”. Elon Musk

    Tesla has a different DNA in terms of leadership, design, engineering. Model S is a masterpiece. X got overdone. Model 3 will the paradigm shift and will disrupt the auto industry. Look at the reservations… They could be >1,000,000 before the 1st M3 is delivered.

    Tesla has competitive advantages besides its design and engineering: GF (boost supply) Supercharger Network (increases demand).

  33. IMO, this is literally one of the worst looking car on the market…. electric or not.

  34. Ian Kelley - 7 years ago

    I’ll give Nissan a few reasons why people are waiting and reserving for the Tesla Model 3, it’s new, better, nicer looking, and quite frankly the Nissan Leaf just isn’t as aesthetic and that’s what everyone is looking for today.

  35. Andy Hill - 7 years ago

    The Leaf is a great car there’s no reason just b/c the Tesla is a great car not to acknowledge the leaf and its contributions. It’s a decent car.

  36. Richard Needham - 7 years ago

    The best laugh I’ve had today.

  37. fuelfighter - 7 years ago

    I’m happy with my Leaf. I knew going into it, that it wouldn’t be smart to purchase it. Leasing was the smarter route, with a rapidly changing technology and marketplace.

    My lease will be up in the fall .

    I think that will be perfect timing. I’ll will look for a 2 year lease on a Bolt or something similar. After that expires, I’ll be able to go for a Tesla.

  38. Marlon - 7 years ago

    I bought a Nissan Leaf. The range limitation is an embarassment. I am surprised people are still buying it. The Leaf proves how anxious and hungry buyers are for ab electric car. Most average people could accept the awful looks, but without range this car is a disgrace. I seriously doubt Nissan or any maker can offer 215+ miles and Tesla like luxury for $35k. It would take 3-5 years for Benz, Nissan etc to build their own gigafactory and become competitive. The know how is also not there and battery technology gor other makers is behind 5-10 years.

  39. J P Magon - 7 years ago

    Yea.. Na. Nissan need to learn a lot when it comes to the Western market. That these cute little hatches are only for teenage girls or old ladys.
    The leaf has no shape. It’s like a bubble car, Google comes to mind.
    It seams Nissan can’t design cars anymore, with the exception of the r35 gtr.

  40. Sophocles - 7 years ago

    People reserved because they beleive it is worth waiting for something special. This is a fact of life. Something else today that isn’t that special isn’t worth having. I’ll stick with my old car for now.By the way, I believed in the vision and pre-ordered mine before the reveal. I now have a blown up photo of the car on my wall at work which helps pick me up on a tough day. It will be the first ever new car that I will buy and glad that it will be. It will be a part of history. It will be against a back drop of car giants with large resources. I am in the u.k so my wait will be longer than those in the U.S but am still pleased to be in the queue.

  41. yansong chen - 7 years ago

    My leaf is just fine for me. For $25,000 I paid before tax credit, it is unique in its price range. i already put 30,000 miles on it, can not be happier.

    Leaf is very popular in my area, my company parking lot usually has over 40 leaves, a couple of volt. I have yet seen a single tesla.

    Regarding range, all I need is one day’s range. An extra 100 miles range only increase weight of car.

  42. azentropy - 7 years ago

    I probably would have bought a leaf already if I didn’t find it so unattractive. Still have been considering picking one up as 2012/2013 models are going for under $10K now locally as a second vehicle until my Model 3 is ready!

  43. sean pereira - 7 years ago

    Lol. WhY is Nissan comparing it’s self to Tesla electric car.

    + I do like the way the car drives but that’s it.

    + it’s good for people that want to stay in the city or have short distances.

    – it is ugly

    – way over priced

    – badly built

    – inefficient

    – not genuinely built for the interest of the environment or wellness of man kind.

    Stop this campaign and invest that money in building a proper, attractive and efficient car. Use the free patterns Tesla has posted to beat the company at its own game.

    I like Tesla but off late I have started to hate the hype and sales attitude. Tesla keep your customers service up. It seems to be sliding down hill.

  44. Robert Roblin - 7 years ago

    It’s ugly, virtually no range, takes forever to charge and Nissan mocks Tesla? I own a Tesla Model S and will buy a Chevy Bolt this fall (a real electric car) as a second car. Nissan has not updated this Flintstone looking car since it’s inception and they’re surprised at the Model 3’s reception? Instead of mockng the reservation system just produce a better e-car and people might buy it. Nissan and BMW seem to put their worst car designers on their electric cars to make their petrol cars look better. Go figure,!

  45. Chris - 7 years ago

    Maybe if it wasn’t so freaking ugly? What were they thinking? It’s like some manufacturers make their electric cars ugly so no one buys them (I’m talking to you Toyota, Nissan, BMW)
    Part of the appeal of the model 3 is that it’s a good looking car. Maybe Nissan should make a electric car that looks like the Qashqai

  46. BobbyG - 7 years ago

    Butt ugly, underpowered and anemic. I willing to wait for my Tesla 3.


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