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Why Nissan Is Talking To Tesla Model S Owners 335

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-do-you-like-us-now? dept.
cartechboy writes "What do you do when you're the first to market with a mainstream item, and yet the competition seems to be a hotter commodity? Naturally you do your homework. That's exactly what Nissan is doing. With disappointing sales of its Leaf electric car, Nissan is doing the smart thing and talking to Tesla owners about their cars. One would assume this is in hopes of understanding how to better compete with the popular Silicon Valley upstart. The brand sent an email to Sacramento-area Model S owners with four elements ranging from general information and a web-based survey to asking owners to keep a driving diary and to come in for in-person interviews with Nissan staff. The question is: Is Nissan trying to get feedback on its marketplace and competition, or is the brand looking at either offering an electric car with longer range or planning to challenge Tesla with an upper end plug-in electric car?"
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Why Nissan Is Talking To Tesla Model S Owners

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  • Odd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smack.addict (116174) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:32PM (#46328333)

    I don't see the Tesla as competing with the Leaf. The Leaf basically competes with the Volt. It's biggest problem is range. The Leaf suits only a narrow market who either has a very short commute or a relatively short commute with charging at their destination.

    There's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean there's necessarily a small audience for it.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      I don't see the Tesla as competing with the Leaf. The Leaf basically competes with the Volt. It's biggest problem is range. The Leaf suits only a narrow market who either has a very short commute or a relatively short commute with charging at their destination.

      There's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean there's necessarily a small audience for it.

      The Leaf competes with the Tesla in the sense that if it had better range (say 150% more at the cost of maybe $10k more), I'm sure there'd be much more folks considering it.

      As someone who's been eyeing the electrics (love the Rav4 EV, just not the range), I'd rather save $20-30k and still avoid the gas stations and my high monthly gas bill as I'd pretty much use this car only for commuting.

      • Re:Odd (Score:5, Interesting)

        by smack.addict (116174) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:57PM (#46328625)

        I can't fathom why anyone who can afford a Tesla Model S would buy something else.

        Yes, it's electric. But it's also the best damn car on earth.

        The only thing Nissan could do to make me consider a Leaf is make it a clone of the Tesla. I don't think they are going to achieve it at the Leaf's price point.

        The Leaf's chief issue for its target market is range. And, as another posted, the Nissan dealers are Nissan's worst enemy in selling them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          laptop screen in console is a show stopper for me.

          hate hate hate it! stupid concept for children who can't seem to get enough lcd displays.

          go back to tactile controls and I'll consider a car like that.

          I like a lot about the car, but the inside cabin makes me want to gag.

          • Re:Odd (Score:5, Funny)

            by rockout (1039072) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:33PM (#46329047)

            In other news, I can't find a car anymore where I have to roll the windows down manually! Stupid electric windows! that is a DEAL BREAKER for me.

            (also, I think maybe you need to look up the idiom "show stopper")

            • Re:Odd (Score:5, Insightful)

              by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:52PM (#46329279) Homepage

              Yeah. Why bother with knobs that you can feel without taking your eyes off of the road. Make life exciting! Change the station on your radio by having to press a tiny soft button that may allow you a more exciting life of car accidents and hospital stays! Meet new cute nurses! Get sponge baths! Try interesting new drugs!

              Sorry, but LCD displays are nice for SHOWING information, but they absolutely suck if you put a touch screen on there. I rented a car with a stupid touch-screen radio, and I was in a new area where I did not know the local stations, and trying to change the station while driving was an accident waiting to happen.

              On a completely unrelated topic, as a current owner of a Nissan mini-van (got kids, sorry), the only way that I would buy another Nissan would be if they hired a mechanic to live in my garage to fix it every night. That is the worst vehicle that I have ever owned.

            • Re:Odd (Score:5, Insightful)

              by aztracker1 (702135) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:09PM (#46329445) Homepage
              With the touch screen, you have to take your eyes off the road... with buttons and knobs, you can manipulate them without taking your eyes off the road as much. It comes down to safety imho as much as interaction. Also, tactile feedback is a big deal.
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                The idea behind modern cars is that you don't have to dick with the settings as often, and therefore you don't take your eyes off the road as much anyway. You have your mp3 player, so you're not changing radio stations. The car handles things for you automatically, so you're not having to change settings. You're meant to set it and forget it. The touch screen is pretty much mandatory for navigation, so why not make it big and pretty so that you don't have to squint to see it?

                Luxury cars without a fancy comp

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            "go back to tactile controls and I'll consider a car like that."

            Why do you want to feel the gauges instead of looking at them?

            • by mythosaz (572040)

              You're kidding, right?

              There's this thing called the road. Being able to change the stereo with your thumb on the steering wheel control, or press the hard button with your right hand beats looking away from the road and locating it on a big smooth screen every day of the week.

        • by icebike (68054)

          I think there is market for the leaf if they quadrupled the range with no more than 5k added to the price, and did nothing else.
          There are a lot of people who like little cars for running around town.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            I just need the price to come down. I don't need 70+ miles of range. My wife has a 5 mile commute, but the Leaf is way too expensive to ever recoup the cost. If it had a 40 mile range to account for errands and battery decline, but cost the same as a Versa or even a Sentry, we'd be in business.

            • by mythosaz (572040)

              A Versa Note is about $8,000 less than a Leaf after incentives. [If you can actually afford a new car, you can probably take advantage of the tax credit. YMMV.]

              The Versa Note costs about 10c/mile to drive in gas.
              The Leaf costs about 2c/mile to drive in electricity.

              The average 20-54 year old drives about 15k/year.
              https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/... [dot.gov]

              The Leaf becomes cheaper than the Versa Note late in year 6.

              • Except that part of the premise is that they have lower than average usage, so your conclusion should be that it takes more than 6 years.

            • by icebike (68054)

              I think you'll find that 40 mile range is inadequate even if you only THINK you commute 5 miles.
              (5 miles is bike commuting range).

              You get groceries, visit people, go out to dinner, see the dentist etc. You probably visit the bigger next town for shopping.
              You'd end up having to have another car just to do those things.

              The claimed range is 100 miles. Go read reviews by actual owners. See if you believe that 100 miles.
              Then see if you'd believe 40 if they told you that was the range.

              Clearly the car has a batte

        • by alcmena (312085)

          And, as another posted, the Nissan dealers are Nissan's worst enemy in selling them.

          Yes... yes... and yes. I actually own a Leaf and I love it. But the hell I went through at the dealership neraly had me abort and go home minus a shiny new Leaf.

        • Dear NIssan,

          One word will explain why the LEAF is not popular:

          FUGLY [urbandictionary.com]

      • by icebike (68054)

        he Leaf competes with the Tesla in the sense that if it had better range (say 150% more at the cost of maybe $10k more), I'm sure there'd be much more folks considering it.

        Agreed. The leaf is just too range challenged. (Claims 100miles, owners say half of that)
        Add to that, the leaf has little in the way of creature comforts or high tech gadgetry.
        Its safety rating is Good, (code word for mediocre)
        Its a pretty bare bones car, sold at a loss.
        Its performance is abysmal

        That much is fairly obvious just looking at the specs.
        I suspect Nissan is busy trying to figure out which of those features is important to the Tesla owner, but I rather
        suspect the answer will be All of the above.

        • Re:Odd (Score:5, Informative)

          by mythosaz (572040) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:52PM (#46329277)

          n.b. Leaf Owner.

          Agreed. The leaf is just too range challenged. (Claims 100miles, owners say half of that)

          Leaf owners aren't claiming 50 mile ranges, at least not in bulk.

          I do blended highway/city driving in a huge sprawl city, and I get about 86. [That's 3.9 miles per kWh, which jives with what a lot of people will tell you.] Even under the worst possible conditions (all freeway) I get the 70 miles necessary to go to my office and back.

          Add to that, the leaf has little in the way of creature comforts or high tech gadgetry.

          What creature comforts do you think the leaf is missing?

          It matches most other lines of car at similar prices in terms of features. The mid-level version (which is less than 3k ask over the base) has a nice XM stereo with on-steering-wheel controls, navigation, heated seats, heated mirrors, etc. It's nothing "fancy," but it's certainly not missing hightech gadgetry. The base model is only missing built-in navigation and has cheaper wheels.
          http://www.nissanusa.com/elect... [nissanusa.com]

          Its safety rating is Good, (code word for mediocre)

          Perhaps. "Good" at IIHS is their top rating. It's only 4 out of at Safecar.gov USnews gave it a 9, which is in the middle of other Hybrid/Electric cars.

          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratin... [iihs.org]
          http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicl... [safercar.gov]
          http://usnews.rankingsandrevie... [rankingsandreviews.com]

          Its a pretty bare bones car, sold at a loss.

          As mentioned, it is not any more bare than any other car in this price range.

          Its performance is abysmal

          You haven't driven one, or you're only interested in high-speed driving. Yes, the Leaf tops out at 93mph (that's a 10,000rpm artificial limit on the motor), but it's VERY VERY quick in city situations, and certainly doesn't suffer getting on the freeway either. You've got full torque from a stop. You never worry about merging or having to beat someone out to change lanes. It's not a giant beast, but it's by not means a car with "abysmal performance."

    • Re:Odd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:55PM (#46328609) Homepage

      I don't know if it's an American thing but most people in Europe and Japan wouldn't consider a 50 mile each way commute "very short". For most of us a Leaf would be fine for 95% of the journeys we make, maybe 99%. Most households have more than one car too.

      Having said that range anxiety is an issue that massive battery packs like Tesla's solve, even if most people never come close to depleting them. I bet Tesla have some really interesting stats on how little people push their batteries.

      Nissan are probably looking to understand what people want from a luxury electric sedan. The Leaf has sold pretty well for them, especially in their home market of Japan where you can buy it in a bundle with solar PV and use it as a UPS for your house in the event of an emergency.

      • by esldude (1157749)
        Well, I think people are looking at 50 miles both ways or 25 one way. Lots of places you couldn't charge during the day. And yes, in the USA, that is maybe not an average commute, but not at all uncommon either. Plus if you have a 40 mile commute with 50 mile real world range that is cutting things pretty close. When an oops I need to go somewhere else is hours of charging away from being possible. Another way I have put it to people. Imagine driving a car with a 1.5 gallon gas tank. That is about wha
        • And then there's cold weather. A 50 mile range becomes 25 really quickly in the cold.

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            What 50 mile range?

            Real world Leaf owners get 85+ on average.

            I'm currently averaging just above that myself, and non-freeway driving can easily net 100+.

            A Leaf driven at 35mph can get over 130.

          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            Very true.

            Mind you, even gasoline powered vehicles suffer from cold weather mileage decreases. In my decidedly-not-electric Honda Accord V6 I get 6.5 L/100 km during summer, but ~ 8.5 L/100 km in the winter (note, winter where I am is cold, often minus 20s C, i.e. 'sub-zero' Fahreinheit).

            Those figures in US MPG, roughly speaking, are "mid 30s" summer, "high 20s" winter.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Weird, I wonder why that is? I'm completely unschooled on the matter, but I am a mechanical engineer. With just naive thermodynamics, it seems that the cold should be better due to the better heat sink and the denser air at the intake.

              • Re:Odd (Score:5, Informative)

                by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:50PM (#46329855)

                Yeah, that's what I thought too at first. A bit of Googling suggests that cold results in increased oil viscosity and a need for a higher fuel/air ratio (dictated by the engine computer) in cold weather. Compounding this, tyre rolling resistance is increased in the cold.

                On top of that, apparently the fuel companies change their formula/blend in winter in cold-weather markets. The winter blend works more reliably in the cold but is not as efficiently burned.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        The Leaf has sold pretty well for them, especially in their home market of Japan

        Here in Norway too, which is a fairly big market for electric cars.

        Last month:
        Nissan Leaf: 650 cars (5.7%)
        Tesla Model S: 132 cars (1.2%)
        Last year:
        Nissan Leaf: 4604 cars (3.2%)
        Tesla Model S: 1983 cars (1.4%)

        They're not competing for the same customers at all though, I don't think anyone with a Tesla would get a Leaf nor would anyone happy with a Leaf cash out for a Tesla. Cheapest Leaf: 228600 NOK, cheapest Tesla: 463800 NOK so more than double. Fully stashed Leaf: 281400 NOK, fully stashed Tesla: 829700 NOK

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Yeah - even here in Australia (same physical size as the lower 48 US states and similar low density suburban sprawl everywhere), that would be considered quite a long commute. The only significant group of people I know with that kind of distance commute might be people in the Blue Mountains who work in downtown Sydney, but even so, a lot of them take the train rather than drive...

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Miles dont matter it's time. I have a 45 mile commute daily, co workers have a 5 mile commute. I arrive at work before them because I travel at 70mph for 90% of the commute time while they sit there in traffic for 99% of the time never exceeding 8 mph.

        I'll gladly take my 45 mile commute of cruising the highway than sitting in traffic. And before any of you chime in about "ride the bike or bus" the united states hats public transportation, all of it here is garbage. and with temperatures that are t

      • by Yosho (135835)

        There's a saying that goes something like, "In America, 300 years is a long time. In Europe, 300 miles is a long distance."

        50 miles is long for a daily commute, but I've known people who did it. I've got a daily commute of almost 10 miles each way, which is pretty standard where I live. 50 miles would be a pretty reasonable distance for going to see a friend in a nearby town for a day or two.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        Yes, but the city centers in Europe are safe places. Not so in America. You pretty much have to live far away in order to have a safe neighborhood and good schools for your kids. Unless you're rich enough for private school.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I don't see the Tesla as competing with the Leaf. The Leaf basically competes with the Volt. It's biggest problem is range. The Leaf suits only a narrow market who either has a very short commute or a relatively short commute with charging at their destination.

      There's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean there's necessarily a small audience for it.

      The one experience I've had with a Leaf is riding in a friend's. Very nice car, but for the money I'd expect more range. Further, the limited range was a near problem as the car could well have left us stuck along the road, because going over even a few hills cuts into the mileage significantly. Very short commute or very short distance errand car is about what it is - a niche market.

      There are a few dozen Tesla S model cars around where I live and I've even spotted one on I-5, southbound. That goes thro

    • The Leaf suits only a narrow market who either has a very short commute or a relatively short commute with charging at their destination

      I wouldn't say "very short commute". Going 25 miles each way isn't a problem. That can get you completely across a lot of towns.

      IMO, the bigger problem is logistics and market demographics. Unless you own a home with a garage, owning an EV can be a real pain in the butt. Home lessors will have to get the owner's permission to install an outlet in the garage. Apartment, and even condo, dwellers would have a very rough time.

      The people who are in the market for a $65k+ car tend to own their own home with

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        I actually lease my Leaf SV (the middle trim) for $300/month. Considering I save almost $100/month in gas, and only pay $20 more per month in electricity, I think it's a great value. The thing I didn't expect to love is the single speed transmission. You don't realize how obnoxious gear changes are until you drive without them.

        Surprising you'd mention a 25+25 range. My average is 85 on a full tank, and that jives with most other owners.

        Are you charging your lease to 80%?

        • I get the normal 85-90 mile range. But I'm figuring that you want to go out for lunch, run some errands on the way home, use the air conditioning the whole way, and still leave a decent cushion. I have run mine down to single digit range remaining and it is very nerve wracking.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "You don't realize how obnoxious gear changes are until you drive without them."

        I've had that for decades, it's an automatic transmission.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          There's a big difference between an automatic transmission and either a CVT or a constant-ratio transmission.

          Smoov...

          • The Leaf and both Teslas use constant ratio transmissions. Electric motors provide maximum torque at all RPMs. The Leaf isn't going to win any drag races, but it has plenty of pickup to merge into any traffic.

            Besides being more pleasant to drive, a constant ratio transmission has a lot fewer parts that can break.

    • by StarWreck (695075)
      You're right, the Leaf most directly competes with the Volt or even the Prius.

      Leaf's biggest problem is their thermal management is under-engineered. Both the Volt and the Tesla have much more thoroughly engineered thermal management systems. It may use up some of the range keeping the battery warm/cool depending on outside conditions but it does a great job keeping the battery from losing half its maximum capacity after only a year.
    • Leaf is for those who want to save money.

      Tesla is for those who have too much money and want to spend it.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      I do, Tesla can easily make a leaf that decimates the Nissan range. If tesla made an affordable electric 2 seater subcompact they could own the electric market. Give me 300 mile range in one at a honda civic price and I am all over it.

    • The 85 mile range is not enough. I would not be able to use it for much of my driving. If it had 125 miles range it would be fine. That 40 miles is a HUGE difference in terms of usability.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        This is true of any range. Someone's driving habits will put them outside of its range.

    • I'm starting to car shop. Mine is 10 years old, 150k miles and hers is 5 years old and 50k miles. Currently I drive a Chevy and she has a Nissan. Her daily commute is about 35 miles round trip. Could be less if she takes a new job closer to the house. And I work from home 3 days a week, but I can travel upwards of 60 miles for meetings or if I need to go help my Dad with something (40 miles one way).

      We are seriously looking at the Volt. With the current tax credits, the price of the Volt is in line wi

  • by maliqua (1316471) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:33PM (#46328337)

    Tesla Model S vs. Nissan leaf

    ones moderately cool and stylish ones a tiny little generic compact with some electrics in it..

    • BINGO!

    • The Leaf isn't as small as you think. A normal sized adult can sit comfortably in the back and the trunk area is surprisingly large.

      • by ttucker (2884057)
        It is gratuitously ugly though.
        • They said that every design decision was made on which option had the lowest drag coefficient (which makes a big impact on range). I'm ok with function over form.

          The most notably odd feature is the big bug eye headlights. At highway speeds, they create low pressure bubbles around the side view mirrors.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Concur. The shortest person in my family is 5'10", and we fit four just fine.

  • when you can sell powerful electric sports cars to rich people and celebreties

    ???

    Profit

    Anyway Leaf is a silly name to sell an electric car.

  • by Kevoco (64263) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:46PM (#46328493)

    My wife is a LEAF owner. In shopping for the LEAF, multiple Nissan dealers were dismissive about the vehicle as a passing fad, a toy, or just dumb. Several dealers didn't even stock one, let a lone a selection. One dealer's demo LEAF was parked behind other cars, under a tree, covered with bird crap.

    The LEAF requires much less service (no gas, no oil changes) while presenting a steep technology learning curve, and making the issue worse, by treating the LEAF as an outcast, dealers sell fewer and have even less reason to be enthusiastic.

    To understand why the Tesla is so hot while the LEAF is not, Nissan need look no further than their own dealer network. Tesla has not dealers, only showrooms, so none of the internal combustion versus electric hangups as the Nissan dealers.

    BTW, we did finally find a Nissan dealer that had a good attitude about the LEAF and we are satisfied customers.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      BTW, we did finally find a Nissan dealer that had a good attitude about the LEAF and we are satisfied customers.

      Just as an aside, why didn't you buy a Tesla Model S? Lack of availability? Cost? Interested, as I'm in this stage where I'm considering my EV options.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by emars (142040)

        Everybody who owns a LEAF would own a Model S if it were $50k cheaper. ;) My 2012 LEAF was $22k (MSRP at the time $37k) with Federal and State incentives.

      • by grqb (410789)

        If I were you I would consider the battery thermal management system in the electric car. It might be a bit technical for most people, but it has a direct impact on how many years the battery will last. The Leaf doesn't have a thermal management system. The Tesla and the Volt both have sophisticated ones.

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        I was in the market for a new car last year and was kinda considering the Tesla ... but unless you live on the coasts of the US (west or east) there simply ain't enough charging stations. I'm in the Midwest. There IS actually a Supercharger station in my town (Madison WI), but that's exactly where I don't need one, as I can charge at home. Anywhere else I would drive TO around here, doesn't have one. Yet.

        Give it another 5 years and hopefully a successful release of a mid-level (say, $40k-ish) car by Tesla t

    • LEAF requires much less service (no gas, no oil changes)

      It's astonishing how little maintenance the Leaf requires. In the first 10 years, I think the only planned maintenance is brake fluid, brake pads, and cabin air filters.

      To give you an example of how clueless the dealerships are- I was out of town a few months after getting my Leaf and the dealership left me a voicemail saying that my service appointment was scheduled for that weekend. I assumed it was some horrible emergency safety recall. When I called back they said that they had taken the liberty of s

      • by icebike (68054)

        The dealership isn't that clueless, its the high-school bimbos they hire to answer phone and schedule shit.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        I would have brought it in, and watched them change it.... :)

    • One reason is that many dealers make money on the maintenance. Leaf's low maintenance means less money for the dealers.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      The LEAF requires much less service (no gas, no oil changes) while presenting a steep technology learning curve, and making the issue worse, by treating the LEAF as an outcast, dealers sell fewer and have even less reason to be enthusiastic.

      And there's the problem.

      Dealers thrive on service - selling cars is basically a very low margin deal. They make it up in service. The Leaf, the Model S, and other EVs basically have you visiting the dealer maybe once every year, or less. While a traditional ICE will have

      • by BradMajors (995624) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:45PM (#46329813)

        NADA 2012 per dealership average profits: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t... [google.com]

        New vehicle sales net profit: $60,000
        Service and parts department net profit: $310,000

      • by AaronW (33736)

        One thing with Tesla is that they have stated that their goal is to not make a profit on service. Then again, their margins are fairly high and rising on the Model S, over 25% now.

        They still charge a fair amount for pre-paid service at $1900 for four years though everything but the wheels and tires is covered. When I had my 12,500 mile service it included a wheel alignment and various updates. Since my car was a fairly early VIN there were a number of things they changed, mostly to deal with rattles and wha

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "The LEAF requires much less service "

      This is not what I have seen. My honda Civic has not been int othe shop as much as the neighbors Leaf. He has had to have 4 software updates done on the car as well as a couple of electric issues.

      Mine has been in 0 times, I can stop to get an oil change done in 10 minutes on my way home, I dont even get out of the car. Price difference, I will be ahead of him for 10 years at $4.00 a gallon gas before the Leaf saves him enough money to reduce its TCO to my civic.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Price difference, I will be ahead of him for 10 years at $4.00 a gallon gas before the Leaf saves him enough money to reduce its TCO to my civic.

        Are you bad at math?

        A base four-door Civic is $18,300, and costs roughly 10c/mile worth of gas to drive.
        A base Leaf is $21,400 after the tax credit, and costs roughly 2c/mile in electricity to drive.

        That means you take 38,750 miles before you've both paid $22,175

        The average person 20-54 drives 15k/year.
        https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/... [dot.gov]

        The average person breaks even in cost of driving half way through YEAR THREE, not ten.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      The dealer doesn't want to sell a Leaf because they'd make a few hundred bucks and then never see you again. If you buy a Sentra or Maxima, they'll see you (or at least have a chance of seeing you) every 4-6 months for routine maintenance.

  • by NReitzel (77941) on Monday February 24, 2014 @06:53PM (#46328587) Homepage

    Nissan might have more luck selling their expensive electric if the darn thing weren't sprung like an overstuffed haywagon. The suspension is so soft there is not a trace of road feel, and the power steering is so squishy it's like driving a virtual reality vehicle in a bang-em-up game.

    Not everybody who wants an electric wants it to feel like a Ford Explorer.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      Interestng. I wonder if it's different for the European market? I can't imagine a car sprung like that would do well in Europe - we like our cars to feel fairly firm.
      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        As someone that moved to the US Midwest recently I can attest that firm suspensions are not the norm and seem not to be as popular here. Like you, I prefer them - better handling and better road feel.

        However, after driving here for the better part of a year I can see why. I'm actually kinda cursing buying a sedan with stiff sports suspension here ... the roads are freaking AWFUL. They're mostly concrete (loud, with bumpy expansion joints) and have many cracks, ridges, potholes etc ... driving along many hig

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        It's probably difficult to tune as stiffly as people are accustomed for a car that size. It's heavy. Ride around in a Versa with 3 slightly obese men in it and see how springy it feels. (3,291 vs 2,460 lbs curb weight)

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Nissan might have more luck selling their expensive electric if the darn thing weren't sprung like an overstuffed haywagon. The suspension is so soft there is not a trace of road feel, and the power steering is so squishy it's like driving a virtual reality vehicle in a bang-em-up game.

      Its an electric car, not a sports car.

      The primary audience wants squishy steering and soft suspension. It's like complaining that a Honda Civic is a boring ride, well no shit, but the people who buy Civic's want a boring car (and if it works for them, good on em).

  • by jxander (2605655) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:01PM (#46328659)

    The Tesla cars are marketed towards higher end customers. The kind of people with disposable income to afford the extra pain that might be associated with early adoption of new tech. Also the kind of people who tend to enjoy "early adopter" status.

    Things like the garage charger (or even owning a home with a garage) or a secondary vehicle in case you want to drive somewhere out of range ... these are much easier to deal with if you can afford the 80k Tesla S

    Beyond the financial, Tesla modeled themselves after small boutique shops. A lot more attention payed per customer, and a very narrow focus. There are always going to be problems with new tech, but Tesla has seemed much better positioned to get over those hurdles than a widely distributed brand. A Nissan dealership has to work with sedans, trucks, gas, electric, diesel, etc. Tesla is free to focus on working out their electrical issues and helping their customers

    It also helps to have a eccentric billionaire at the helm. Other eccentric billionaires tend to flock together, giving the brand a lot of visibility.

  • The vast majority of Teslas have been sold in California. I know that because I happen to be doing some work in Silicon valley at the moment and I see a Tesla (or 5) every single day. I don't think I've seen one Tesla where I live.

    The difference is that in California there are lots of charging stations set up so you can "plug in" when you need to. I'd be willing to bet there are not many charging stations in Montana.

    The Leaf is a commuter car, the Tesla is a high end sports car that just happens to run on e

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      The Leaf, sadly, is DOA. Unless you start getting charging stations everywhere the only practical alternative is the hybrid.

      Says who?
      500+ public chargers in my city. I've only twice been >5 miles from a charger. I was 5.2 miles away from a CHAdeMO charger when visiting my parent's retirement community, and I was once 23 miles away on a trip to the casino outside of town.

      The other 10,000 miles I've driven have never, ever, been more than a few minutes from a charger in nearly any direction.

  • Range. Range. Range. Ability to recharge quickly at many locations. Range. Make it look cool. Range.

    There. Paypal me a bunch of money, Nissan. Did they really not know this?

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:23PM (#46328927)

    When you sell a new product, there are four cases:

    A) Your product is better and more expensive.
    B) Your product is better and cheaper.
    C) Your product is worse and cheaper.
    D) Your product is worse and more expensive.

    There is only one case which will fail to materialize any significant sales, in case you didn't notice: it's D.

    Tesla just about managed to get into the A category by having a roadster that is genuinely better than the competition in many, though not all, respects. It's a sports car, people are prepared to make compromises for performance. Most of all, they are prepared to make compromises in terms of the price. While the superiority of the Model S is limited to bragging rights, while range issues where addressed by brute force, that is in fact a unique selling point to a certain demographic that doesn't mind spending as much money on one car as other people would spend on five. Bragging rights aside, the Model S is still an inferior product compared to most other cars, including those of similar or much lower price.

    Most other electric cars are firmly in the D category. They are both worse and more expensive. None of this is a game breaker by itself, but the combination is. The leaf is too limited by its battery to get even roughly in the territory of a normal car and it has no reserves to drive at higher speeds while still maintaining acceptable range. That's a non-issue for the Tesla, due to a huge battery pack and an equally huge price to go with it.

    What nobody has done so far, is move into the C category. It doesn't matter if your product is worse, if you can sell it at a cheaper price than all the rest. We've seen this work with netbooks. Given full basic functionality, performance is much less of an issue than linear extrapolation would have you expect. You can sell a product at half price that has much less than a quarter of the performance in several metrics, so long as it still has full functionality. You could sell electric cars at half the price of the cheapest conventional cars - that is roughly 3-4000 euros - if they are still cars. An aerodynamic two-seat half-width car (passengers sitting behind each other, not next to each other), that can drive about 70km/h is enough for most needs in a city and limited over-land travel. Given the low price expectations are much lower. Given the smaller size and lower speed, much less energy is consumed. A 4 kWh battery could yield a range of about 100km, with some extra margin. Even a conventional wall outlet can charge this battery within an hour.

    Most problems associated with high cost of electric cars are down to large size, high speeds, high weight and high range requirements, making large batteries an absolute necessity. Once you back away from large size and high speeds of conventional cars, the rest follows automatically. A small, relatively slow car needs 4kWh / 100km. A conventional car needs about four times as much, about 16kWh/ 100km. A battery that has only a quarter of the capacity can be charged in a quarter of the time. It is also just a quarter of the price, so it matters less if quick charging wears it down faster. The result is a much cheaper and much lighter car, that certainly doesn't need carbon fibre parts to save a few pounds. You could use something as pedestrian as a steel tube frame and still get a 300kg car.

    • Erm... what do you consider to be worse about the Model S compared to other cars? It has superior performance to most luxury cars (it borders on being classified as a sports car itself, performance-wise), is surprisingly roomy, has lots of storage (due to the "front trunk"), is very comfortable to ride in (no engine vibration, no gear shifting, no idle noise... heck, it makes even sitting in traffic tolerable), has excellent handling with an extremely low center of gravity (the battery pack and it's armor plate make up the car's undercarriage), and it literally exceeds the maximum safety ratings that can be assigned (it broke some of the testing equipment rather than itself breaking, and the testers were *unable* to flip it with their usual test machine).

      Its electronic, touch-driven center dashboard console might be a bit weird and off-putting to some people, but other people will absolutely love it. It's RWD, but since the motor is at the rear (and the whole car is pretty heavy anyhow) it actually has good traction under the drive wheels. Despite some news excitement, it's way less fire-prone than a gasoline car (and far safer in the event of a fire, too, with the car warning people in plenty of time to pull over and exit the car... following collisions with heavy metal objects on the road that would likely have totaled a conventional car). The range concern is a bit of a red herring; I drive more 250 miles in one day (giving some margin of error from their nominal max range) only a few days a year, and most people literally never do (for those who do, there's always the rental option for that occasional day... or just plan to eat lunch while the car sits at the supercharger station, unless you're planning to hit 500 miles in that one day).

      I see it as far, far more than merely bragging rights. Most people seem to agree more with me than with you, too, considering all the "car of the year" and such awards it has received...

  • If you can't complete, purchase. Then you can either absorb or eliminate.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:55PM (#46329307) Journal

    Except for the eco-proud, nobody wants a car that looks like a Leaf, or a Prius, or anything like an economy car. Yeah, we get it - little high pressure tires and aerodynamics matter, but you need to learn to hide that shit. Bland sedan or cute 2 seater (miata/mr2/Z3/Z4/TT) style for even lower drag - don't even let me know it's electric.

    And give an option for a built in mini-generator (honda style - small, quiet, 2kW) that will give drivers the option of never getting stuck.

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:43PM (#46329785)

    Compared to my '04 Jaguar XJ (or, even the current one that I don't like), or the new Maserati sedan, the Tesla is a sad joke as a car. It is cramped, for one thing (I cannot even get into it); entry and exit is more difficult and less dignified (fun to watch your trophy girl, though, while you hold her door), and there's no good way to make a quick trip from the LA basin to Santa Barbara, Torrey Pines, or Palm Desert with any load of luggage, full A/C, party-level audio, and lights.

    • Don't even get me started! My driver hates the way the Model S handles and it's horrible at towing the horse trailer to all my dressage competitions. And the sun glare on the in-dash touchscreen combined with the glare on my monocle prevents me from using the in-dash call system to tell my financial planner which Fortune 500 companies I plan on buying this week! I mean, who would drive this POS? I would offer mine to some poor family in a third-world country, but I wouldn't want to have to pay to have i
  • The Tesla model S and the Nissan Leaf are two very different cars. We have friends that own both, and have been doing the numbers on getting a Leaf.

    The Tesla is a no-compromise luxury car, at a luxury car price. Has good range. Can be your main sedan.

    The Leaf is an unapologetic economy car, priced to be a good value (at least in California after various rebates.) It's a commute car -- you don't go on road trips to the mountains with it.

    The Leaf can be driven single-occupant in the the high-occupancy-veh

  • Tesla sell real cars that happen to be all-electric. And by "real" I mean "practical". The leaf has a range of maybe 80 miles. And (according to a NIssan dealer) that drops to "maybe 40" in the Minnesota winter. Even if Tesla cars lose half their advertised range here, it's still more than the Leaf's optimal conditions range.

    I looked into the Leaf last time I was car shopping. I went to a Nissan dealer. They told me they don't actually HAVE a Leaf, but they'd be happy to show me a picture of one. They said

  • by seven of five (578993) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:01PM (#46330809) Homepage
    Guy I know commutes with a Leaf to work. Loves the electric benefits but says he can't keep the heat on in this bastard cold winter without the risk of running out of juice. He bundles up and braves it, but I gotta wonder, the battery must get hot anyway during operation; why can't they pump some of that into the cabin? I've also heard comments that some hybrids have that problem too -- to get decent heat, you have to run the engine.

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