Chelsea Sexton forming Advisory Board to help Nissan learn how to market the Leaf
In the wake of revelations about Nissan Leaf premature driving range, Nissan agreed with Chelsea Sexton to start an independent advisory board. The advisory board was first announced in an open letter Nissan published last month via the MyNissanLeaf discussion board (MNL). Yesterday, Sexton disclosed, a long posting on the MNL discussion board, some details about the purpose and scope of this advisory board.
While the advisory board was not, according to Sexton, "convened specifically to address the Arizona battery issue" the context for this board is strongly influenced by that issue. The issue is that Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona, and some other states, are suffering from overly rapid loss of battery pack capacity and a loss of driving range. A growing chorus of Leaf owners are documenting battery pack capacity loss, including a massive test convened in Phoenix independently by Leaf owners. Nissan has made two public responses, in June and in September, and it's clear that Nissan has on its hands a product quality controversy. Most of Nissan's responses have been in the form of downplaying the issue, minimizing the number of Leaf owners affected. Nissan did bring in seven Leaf's for intensive study, and have since suggested that rather than Arizona's famously hot climate ("at least it's a dry heat") the problem exists with Leaf owners who drive an above-average number of miles per year.
For a video interview, covering this controversy, between Sexton and Nissan EVP Andy Palmer, see Nissan's Andy Palmer explains Leaf battery capacity loss to Chelsea Sexton
Rather than convene this advisory group to address the battery issue, Sexton says "it was conceived to help Nissan learn how to better communicate and engage with the EV community, both current drivers and potential ones." One way to interpret the controversy we just summarized, is difficulty within Nissan's marketing of holding a two-way conversation with the public. This sort of difficulty is facing marketing departments all over the world, because normal traditional marketing methodology is a one-way dissemination of "messaging" from a corporation. Corporations rarely do a good job of responding to individual customers, but with the rise of social media and other interactive services on the Internet, corporations are having to learn new ways of communicating with their customers.
Beyond this focus on teaching Nissan how to communicate with the public, Sexton says "they're pretty open-minded on the group's focus" and goes on to detail the broad brush strokes of the advisory board's role.