Nissan’s dealers now have a stronger part to play in encouraging more consumers to adopt electric vehicles.
Following expansion of the national EV charging network to more than 10,000 points and the arrival this month of a new 30kwh Leaf with a 25% increased range, sales executives have a stronger opportunity to target the right customers.
Robert Tweedie, EV category manager at Nissan Motor GB, told AM: “Our network has now been selling EV cars for five years and that experience comes through in an efficiency of sales process and its engagement with the Leaf.”
He said the learnings already achieved are that Leaf is a product which can be accessible to all, and where customers become aware and understand its advantages it becomes a rational choice and they make the product work in their lifestyles. Customers often become advocates for the technology and the brand, he added.
Key is ensuring the Leaf is the right fit for the customer. Customers interested in a Leaf can book a four-day test drive from their local dealership. In addition the sales staff on site must properly qualify the prospective buyer to find out their daily mileage and whether they have off-street parking where a charger could be installed, he said.
Dealers are also tasked with workplace promotion, taking Nissan’s electric vehicles out to businesses to talk about its leadership in EVs and to demonstrate how they can be of benefit. Nissan GB provides centralised support for this, through marketing materials and presentations.
Tweedie said the 30kwh model is expected to account for 80% of Leaf sales. However the average Leaf customer drives 7,500 miles per year, so daily usage is in line with the 24kwh model's range.
“There’s a lot of misconception out there that we need work hard to break down with our products and with how we make customers aware of the significant benefits of EVs,” he added.
The original Leaf with its 24kwh battery and official test range of 120 miles – likely to be 80 in real life driving – remains on sale from £20,790. Yet the electric car convert seeking more range security can now pay a £1,600 premium for a Leaf with a 30kwh battery which provides an official range of up to 155 miles, the greatest of all current pure EVs.
That will be affected by factors such as ambient temperature and use of the car’s heater of course. The results of AM’s 60 mile test drive on a cold, wet January day suggested a real-life range of 100-110 miles is likely to be its limit.