2011 Nissan Leaf prototype
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 Nissan Leaf is here. And by "here", we mean "the interwebs".
No, you can't drive it just yet. But you can follow Lance Armstrong's Twitter feed, where the new Nissan spokesperson occasionally mentions the all-electric five-door and how excited he is to be the first person in America to own one. That probably makes Nissan very happy, since about 2.5 million folks follow Armstrong, and the number is growing now that the Tour de France is on. (FYI, Nissan's sponsorship arrangement with Team Armstrong -- better known as Team Radio Shack -- is part of a larger marketing campaign called "Master the SHIFT_", targeting cycling and running events around the globe.)
No, you can't get an up-close look. But you can watch a really good ad that Lance made for the Leaf a couple of weeks ago:
The clip recently debuted on Facebook, and although we haven't seen it on TV just yet, we're sure it's only a matter of time. Perhaps we should boost our TV consumption to make sure we don't miss it.
No, it isn't in showrooms. But it is on your iPhone. Nissan is one of the first companies to make use of Apple's new mobile advertising platform, iAd. Here's a clip of Steve Jobs himself demoing iAd, using a spot for the Nissan Leaf:
That's the sort of publicity money can't buy. (Well, actually it can. And did.) But will Apple fanboys start pitching tents at Nissan dealerships now?
No, we don't know when it's going to be delivered, but keep watching this space as Marty Padgett -- our editor and soon-to-be EV guinea pig -- chronicles his drive down the road toward Leaf ownership. Marty was one of 15,000 consumers to reserve a Leaf, and like the others, Nissan had assured him that he would receive additional info about the car and delivery schedule by June 30. Unfortunately, Nissan missed that deadline, but to its credit, it did send out an email to let consumers know that the details they craved were coming. In our book, communication is good, even when it's communicating bad news.
So far, Nissan's use of social media to hype the Leaf seems to be playing out well. Yes, its promotional efforts are a lot quieter than the "Movement" campaign for the Ford Fiesta -- and a lot more targeted, too. But then, the Fiesta is a mass-market, gas-powered ride, and the Leaf is a niche-oriented EV with a limited release, limited production run, and perhaps limited appeal to all but early adopters. As long as Nissan doesn't foul the production schedule, the company seems to be on-track.