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Chevy And Nissan Benefit From Plug-In Buzz

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On: Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 9:10AM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy And Nissan Benefit From Plug-In Buzz

Both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf hit the market nearly a year ago. The country's two cleanest cars have been in a sales race, with both hoping to reach around 10,000 sales or so by the end of the year. Chevy benefited from a stronger start, but Nissan picked up, passed Chevy by and hasn't looked back.

The sales rivalry has caused a war of PR spin, but there's one thing that executives at both Nissan and Chevy can agree on: plug-in vehicles have been good for brand image and business.

Even if you're not quite ready to buy an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, you have to admit that they make for an interesting story. In a world that's become growingly eco-conscious and a country that's grown tired of high gas costs far beyond their control, the story of automakers creating cheaper, mass-produced EVs is worth a read.

According to Detroit News, both Chevy and Nissan expressed happiness with the buzz of their respective vehicles have created at the Center for Automotive Research's third-annual Business of Plugging In Conference last week. Both companies also said that the vehicles have been pulling new customers in, with Nissan stating that a whopping 83 percent of Leaf customers never bought a Nissan before, and Chevy stating that about a third of Volt buyers are new to the brand.

That buzz is likely to subside a little during year 2 of the mass-produced EV. Competitors like the Ford Focus EV and Mitsubishi i-Miev are scheduled to hit the market, diluting some of that original "new and unique" buzz. Both the Focus EV and i-Miev offer comparable ranges and specs to the Nissan Leaf, providing little separation.

The new cars do offer some interesting competitive advantages, though. With a starting price under $30,000, Mitsubishi advertises the i-Miev as the most affordable electric vehicle, and Ford has focused largely on the technology of the Focus EV, which includes things like the MyFord Touch system and available 240-volt charging system that boasts 3.5-hour charge time. Both Ford and Mitsubishi should see some new faces when their EVs launch.


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