NASHVILLE – Nissan North America will begin banging the drum to advertise its electric Leaf sedan in the next two weeks in hopes of differentiating it from the field of hybrids on the market.
Buried in the new campaign is a clear poke at the Leaf's closest technological rival -- General Motors' Chevrolet Volt.
Both advanced new vehicles profess to be electric cars. But the two companies have exchanged barbs about the shortcomings of one another's technology.
The Leaf is a pure electric vehicle, and the Volt is a plug-in hybrid that uses an electric motor and a gasoline-powered electric generator.
Nissan's new TV spots show a Volt owner standing at a filling station putting gasoline into the Volt as he watches a Leaf owner across the street unplugging a public vehicle charger.
Jon Brancheau, Nissan's vice president of marketing, said the spots will try to hammer the message of the difference between a full electric car and the market's gasoline-burning hybrids.
The new campaign imagines an absurd world in which "everything runs on gas," according to Nissan's marketing material. The spots show coffee makers, cell phones, alarm clocks and dental tools all running with gasoline engines and spewing exhaust.
TV, Internet and print advertising will begin appearing on Monday, with 60-second TV spots starting on June 6.
The advertising is launching as the Leaf clears some recent hurdles -- the EV's slow production startup at a Nissan factory in Japan and disruptions caused by Japan's March 11 earthquake.
Through the first four months this year, the Volt outsold the Leaf, 1,703 to 1,025.
But Nissan officials have declared in recent weeks that they will now transition from delivering the electric car "by the handful to delivering them by the thousands."
Nissan, confident of delivering all 20,000 pre-ordered Leafs by the end of the summer, began this month accepting reserved orders online for 2012 model Leafs, to begin delivery this fall.