Nissan calls out Tesla by name and reignites ‘Tesla killer’ nonsense with the new Leaf

Nissan launched its next-generation Leaf yesterday and it featured the biggest upgrade to the all-electric vehicle program since its launch back in 2011.

It looks like the new Leaf is well-positioned to grow the EV market and take away market share from gas-powered cars, but surprisingly, Nissan instead decided to call out other electric car makers, specifically Tesla.

Electrek’s Take

It always surprises me when new electric cars are pitted against other electric cars even though it’s still a ridiculously small market.

When launching a new product, you generally want to go in the biggest possible market and in the auto industry, that’s gas- and diesel-powered cars.

New electric cars should aim to steal market share from those, but there’s still this unnecessary rivalry between EVs, which will eventually become inevitable, but it still feels weird at this stage of the transition.

It led to almost every new electric car, regardless of segment, being dubbed a “Tesla Killer”. Last year, I wrote an op-ed titled: The Myth of the ‘Tesla Killer’: it’s time to retire the term and focus on the tech.

The use of the term seemed to have subsided since, but now it’s all over the news today with the launch of the next-gen Leaf.

I would normally blame it all on the media going after a cheap click, but Nissan has some responsibility here since they actually went after Tesla in their presentation and it’s not clear why.

During the presentation, Daniele Schillaci, Executive Vice-President of EV sales and Marketing at Nissan, talked about “competitors” and decided to call out Tesla by name:

“We also have two key advantages that our competitors like Tesla don’t.”

And those two advantages were apparently having delivered 300,000 Leafs and being a car manufacturer for 84 years, which aren’t exactly clear advantages. Here’s the part of the presentation:

It was kind of a weird part of the presentation and it certainly helped pit the new Leaf as a Tesla competitor, which I don’t believe it actually is.

The Tesla Model 3 is significantly bigger (8″ longer and 3″ wider), it has 70 more miles of range on the base version, and it’s about $5,000 more expensive.

If you absolutely want to compare the new Leaf to another electric vehicle, I would argue that the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a better example. There are a lot of closer in terms of size and capabilities.

But I would actually argue that the new Leaf is very competitive with gas- and diesel-powered cars in the same segment.

While the range is lower than some were hoping for, 150 miles is going to be enough for a large part of the population and with a ~$30,000 starting price before incentives and gas savings, the actual cost of ownership is going to be extremely attractive for anyone looking to stop going to the gas station.

What do you think? Is this EV rivalry helping push the technology further or should automakers focus on stealing market share from gas guzzlers? Let us know in the comment section below.

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