With Chevy and Nissan offering similar products this year in the Volt and the Leaf, advertising and marketing is expected to be paramount in determining the success of one over the other. Range anxiety is going to be the one point that consumer’s concerns are quelled on in order for either one to be successful, and that is one point of contention where GM definitely dominates.
The Volt will go a distance of 40 miles on exclusive battery power before the 300-mile gasoline powered range extender kicks in, whereas the Leaf on the otherhand, runs solely on electric power with no range extender, and needs a recharge after 70 to 100 miles. This main difference is likely to determine two very distinct sets of buyers.
“The Leaf is going to have to be a second car or a car for someone who rarely leaves the city. The Volt can be your only car,” said Bryan Laviollete, a longtime automotive journalist and writer for The Detroit Bureau. “What you’ll see with the Leaf is that it’s really for two-car families, where maybe Mom drives a minivan and the husband is looking for a commuter car, where he goes 40-50 miles a day, and he can drive it to work and drive it home and it doesn’t need an ounce of gas. But if they’re heading to the lake for the weekend, they’re taking Mom’s minivan.”
While GM insists the Volt is unique and does not really compete in a segment with the Leaf due to its unique technology, Nissan contends that the limited range of the Leaf is sufficient enough for most American drivers, as they tend to drive less than 100 miles per day.
“There’s something we call ‘range anxiety,’ and it’s real,” said Joel Ewanick, GM’s head of U.S. marketing. “That’s something we need to be very aware of when we market this car. We’re going to position this as a car first and electric second. … In talking to thousands of people, they’re looking for a real car. People do not want to be stranded on the way home from work.”
2011 Chevrolet Volt:
2011 Nissan LEAF:
– By: Stephen Calogera
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)