General Motors

Financial benefits of green cars touted

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 4:14am


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Nissan Motor is joining General Motors and Tesla Motors, the largest US sellers of rechargeable cars, in promoting the money-saving benefits of battery-powered cars over saving the planet.

Nissan is readying new advertisements for the 2013 Leaf to expand its appeal beyond environmentally conscious drivers who have bought the car since it debuted in 2010, said Erik Gottfried, director of sales and marketing for the car. A campaign with "more-practical messaging" builds on a US$199 per month lease offer that aided sales last year, he said.

"The environmental play hasn't worked out in anyone's favour so far," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific. "They have to sell the benefits of why you would need this on a day-to-day basis."

Nissan with the Leaf and GM with the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, want higher US sales of rechargeable vehicles after missing targets. Weaker-than-planned demand for cars powered wholly or in part by batteries has made President Barack Obama's goal of getting one million rechargeable cars on US roads by 2015 increasingly unlikely, with fewer than 90,000 sold in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Elon Musk, Tesla's billionaire chief executive, this month unveiled a financing plan for electric Model S cars that he said lets people spend the equivalent of US$500 a month for a car that has a US$69,900 base price. While the actual loan payment for the cheapest Model S would be US$1,051, the company estimates the "out of pocket" cost is half that, factoring in a tax credit plus fuel and time savings.

Nissan in January announced sharply reduced prices for the US version of Leaf, along with improved range and faster recharge time. Production of the modified 2013 model car for North America also began in January in Smyrna, Tennessee, at the main US plant of Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan.

The company's new advertisements will be for a national audience, not only drivers in California and states where large carmakers must sell electric vehicles, said Gottfried, who began his job this month. He didn't say when the advertisements would appear.

"We're focusing on the value and economic equation of having an EV - what impact that would have on your household budget," Gottfried said this week in Nashville, Tennessee.