What Can Tesla Owners Teach Nissan About EVs for the Mass Market?

No one could argue that the Tesla Motors Model S and the Nissan LEAF are in the same car market. There is very little chance that someone looking at one would cross-shop and look at the other – they just don’t compare on range, power, size or cost.

But it seems that Nissan thinks it can learn something from Tesla Model S drivers.

According to Green Car Reports, Nissan arranged for an email to go out to a sub-set of Model S owners asking for them to take part in a small study. They were asked to complete a survey, keep a log of their driving and recharging habits and attend a 1 hour face-to-face interview. The email read:

We would like to conduct a survey of Model S owners in Sacramento area.

The survey will be composed of the following elements (target timing):

1) Participant selection –Owner Name & contact info, Tesla Model Spec, Purchase month/year & current ODO, and home charging station info (Jan 9-17).

2) Web-based survey (Jan 20 week)

3) Owners will keep a ‘driving diary’ for approximately 1 week documenting driving/charging of their vehicle in normal use (Jan 20 week)

4) In-person interview (~1hr) with Nissan staff (week of Feb 3)

It is unclear exactly what Nissan is looking at with this small study, but the emphasis on ‘daily driving’ and ‘charging of their vehicle in normal use’ suggests that it is looking into needed range and recharging capability for drivers of all-electric cars.

Does This Survey Provide Another Clue to a Possible Longer-Ranged LEAF?

Does This Survey Provide Another Clue to a Possible Longer-Ranged LEAF?

Green Car Reports says that during the interview ‘a Detroit-based Nissan representative led the process, with a focus on how the Model S was actually used: where it was charged, how often it was plugged in, how far typically the car was driven per day, and whether the full range was actually used. ‘

Here at Transport Evolved we hope that they make the distinction between ‘needed’ range and ‘wanted’ range. It is unlikely that this small sample of Model S drivers – or Model S drivers in general – will have a daily drive widely outside the US norm of just over 30 miles per day.

This could be seen to confirm Nissan’s view that a longer ranged car is not needed by the majority of drivers, and while that is technically correct it anecdotal evidence suggests that people do not perceive this as enough range and want more.

European Tesla Model S

Is the Popularity And Range of the Model S Scaring Other Manufacturers?

However, this small study, coupled with the knowledge that Nissan has been asking some LEAF owners how much they would pay for a 150 mile LEAF suggests that it is possible they are looking to extend the range. Possibly placing it around the 150 mile EPA-rated mark which would work out as a real-world achievable range or around 130 miles.

Of course, a lot of this is guesswork and we won’t know what Nissan is planning, if anything, until it is announced. But with Tesla making more progress towards the Model E (A ‘gigafactory’ announcement is expected this week) it would make sense for Nissan and other EV manufacturers to re-evaluate their current offerings.

What do you think Nissan is planning? What lessons could Nissan learn from these Model S drivers? Let us know below.


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