Tesla Motors has been crowing about the nearly 400,000 "reservations" it has received for its electric Model 3 sedan. Nissan has now turned those reservations into fodder for its own advertising for the electric Nissan Leaf.
"No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today," trumpets a Nissan ad that appears around the country today. The ads appear in Friday's New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, reminding consumers that Nissan has been mass-producing the all-electric Leaf since 2010.
Tesla's Model 3 is not expected to reach the market until late 2017. The California industry newcomer has become a point of fascination for many U.S. consumers for promising affordable electric vehicles.
But Nissan pioneered EV mass production, investing $5 billion around the world over the past eight years to produce EV battery modules and cars on three continents. The automaker's plant in Smyrna, Tenn., now turns out Leafs that sell for as little as $22,360, including destination and after a $7,500 federal EV purchase credit.
"Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Leaf now?" Nissan asks in the ads. "And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?"
Nissan's competitive poke will also remind consumers what a long slough Nissan and others have had of it in marketing electric cars.
Nissan originally expected to sell up to 150,000 Leafs a year in the U.S. market, in addition to an all-electric Infiniti model and an electric version of its NV200 commercial van. But the bullish outlook for EVs collapsed with falling oil prices and mass-market consumer interest never materialized as expected.
Leaf's U.S. sales plunged 43% last year to 17,269 deliveries. During the first quarter, sales fell 28% to 2,931 vehicles.
Both Nissan and fellow mass-production pioneer General Motors have kept their EV efforts alive. And Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn remains confident that electric vehicles will catch on with consumers in the long run as governments enact tougher rules on vehicle emissions.
But for now, the 2016 Leaf is being offered with a 0% APR for up to 72 months, in addition to a $4,000 factory cash back for qualified buyers.
Lindsay Chappell is a reporter for Automotive News