Nissan LEAF is ready

Nissan raising LEAF awareness with the Big Turn On campaign, in Europe

Nissan Europe has launched a big marketing marketing campaign, in Europe, using online social networks, online videos, and a contest offering significant prizes, aiming to raise awareness about the Nissan LEAF, and establish networks of quick charging stations across Europe.

In Europe, Nissan has started a large marketing push named "The Big Turn On," with the goal of 1 million people, within the next 100 days, "turned on" to the advantages of electric mobility, and specifically the Nissan Leaf. As an awareness raising campaign, the immediate goal is not sales, but awareness, and it's likely awareness will lead to more sales. The marketing campaign is offering significant incentives to cities and prizes to individuals to participate.

The 100 day campaign is, as of this writing, in day 5 and reports 56,190 people turned on already. It is supported by outreaches through online social networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, via country-specific accounts and fan pages for each service.

Cities, in Europe, are invited by Nissan to "embrace electric driving and encourage their communities" with one city winning a network of 30 quick charge stations (CHADEMO). This will result in, 100 days from now, one city in Europe will be well on its way to being an excellent place to own an electric car that has a CHADEMO charging port. CHADEMO quick chargers are compatible with both the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and offer the ability to recharge an electric car to 80% capacity within 30 minutes or less. In the U.S. two large CHADEMO compatible electric car quick charger network announcements were recently made. The first, in California, is a network of 200 quick charge stations to be installed by NRG over the next four years. The second, in Chicago and Illinois, is a network of nearly 80 quick charge stations being installed over the next few months, making it the largest such network in the U.S. However, there is a bit of a controversy over electric car quick charging standards, with CHADEMO set to be rejected by the SAE later this year. Nissan may be playing to establish CHADEMO as a defacto standard ahead of the SAE committee vote.

Nissan states it has another goal to, by the end of 2012, "give away over 400 quick chargers" to cities and other partners across Europe and develop "a network of thousands of chargers and creating a number of Electric Highways to link cities across Europe". With such a network in place one can envision intrepid LEAF or i-MiEV owners setting off on long range journeys, utilizing the quick charger network Nissan aims to build to fuel the journey.

Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Nissan Europe, said: “Nissan was the first manufacturer to mass produce an all-electric car – the Nissan LEAF. We recognise the importance of a zero-emissions future and to date, along with our Alliance partner, Renault, have invested over €4 billion into electric mobility. Now it’s time to tell Europe about the benefits and demonstrate the Nissan LEAF is a real alternative today, and ‘The Big Turn On’ is designed to do just that.”

The two companies, Nissan and Renault, have developed an impressive range of electric vehicles, some of which are on sale now, and others coming on the market soon. Nissan, of course, has developed the Nissan LEAF that is currently on sale around the world. Nissan has also developed the e-NV200, an electric version of the NV200 commercial van, which New York City has slated to deploy in a few years in an electric taxicab service. Renault is building the Fluence Z.E., an electric sedan that is primarily slated for deployment in partnership with the Project Better Place battery exchange network. The Kangoo Z.E. is an electric delivery van meant for commercial customers. The Twizy is an ultra-compact two seater vehicle that could be thought of as a "quadricycle". The ZOE is a subcompact electric car seating four people. Renault's electric vehicles are either already on sale, or will soon go on sale.

A part of the contest involves individual players using social networks to invite their friends to be turned on. The players who turn on the most people will win a tablet computer (the brand isn't specified). At the end of the contest, one contestant will win a Nissan LEAF.

The marketing campaign includes an effort to explode the myths about electric cars. During the 100 days, 100 myths will be exploded, on the website at www.thebigturnon.com.

Prospective buyers can also take a 24 hour test drive, where the person picks up a Nissan LEAF from a dealer in the morning, gets to drive it around all day long, take it home at night, then return it to the dealer the next morning.

In short Nissan's marketing campaign appears meant to demystify electric vehicles, introduce the concepts to a large number of people, while taking concrete steps to set up the electric car recharging infrastructure required to improve the attractiveness of electric cars.

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