Apparently, Nissan is gathering information from drivers about their wants and needs regarding electric vehicles. This is good news because it indicates they care about their customers and prospective customers enough to actually inquire. (Not all companies engage directly with their customers to seek feedback about products and services.) Doing so is a smart strategy not only for collecting the information but also for relating to customers in a more personal way. Better customer service generally is more personal, so it helps to know your customers well.
Of course, it also makes sense to specifically focus on Tesla owners because the Model S in particular has become something of a tour de force and has set a new standard for electric vehicles in terms of the classy design, range, innovative features and even safety. The average Tesla owner is probably well-informed about a number of issues and is dedicated enough to environmental awareness, and supportive of innovative products, that talking to them could provide very useful information.
Nissan isn’t only querying Tesla owners though, they are also posing questions to drivers of their Nissan Leafs. Reportedly, they have asked if a range of 150 miles for a Leaf would be worth paying extra and how much.
What prompted the Nissan intelligence gathering is most likely the success of the Model S. The Leaf was made available to the public before the Tesla sedan, but it was a more conventional and lower-priced vehicle with a much smaller range. The Model S is large, roomy, fast, well-appointed electronically and handsomely designed, though expensive.
It seems Nissan might have been caught a little off guard by the boldness of the Model S, but this is to be expected somewhat considering that Tesla is a much smaller start-up and is freer to deviate from the status quo. At this point, it isn’t clear how Nissan can make up ground on Tesla, especially considering the fact that another Tesla vehicle is due to be released to the public fairly soon. In several years, a smaller, more affordable Tesla all-electric commuter vehicle with a much more moderate price may also be launched.
The range of this vehicle might quite a bit more than 200 miles per charge, but the new Leaf is still rated at about 84 miles. This discrepancy doesn’t bode all that well if Nissan is trying to compete directly with Tesla. At the moment, that doesn’t seem to be the case, because the Model S costs about $90,000 and the Leaf is about one-third of that.
Nissan’s queries are smart because they may unearth the range that drivers are more comfortable with – such as 100 miles per charge – in a compact commuter vehicle.
The Leaf was ground-breaking when it was launched, but now it is no longer than leader it was. Today, the alpha EV is the Model S and the BMW i3 and Volkswagen E-Golf are moderately priced sporty electric vehicles that have a more traditional appeal.