GM Calls Out Nissan Over ‘Gas Powered Everything’ Ad

GM Calls Out Nissan Over ‘Gas Powered Everything’ Ad

Aiming to build hype behind its all-electric Leaf, Nissan has released a new ad, imagining a world where tiny internal combustion engines power everything that currently runs on electricity. The bleak and dirty existence portrayed in the new ad spot then steps to a new level to prove Nissan’s point, showing the sullen protagonist gassing up his Chevrolet Volt. Subtle it is not.

Understandably the folks at General Motors are none-too impressed and while in most cases silent indignation would be the correct course of action, GM product and brand communications chief Jason Laird chose a 140 character or less medium with which to toss back a cleverly worded barb.

“A carmaker poking gentle fun at our product ignores towtrucks they need and rental cars they recommend as backup to their product,” tweeted Laird, hinting at the Leaf’s limited range and reports that owners would be given free rental car days to help eschew concerns over range anxiety. Ouch!

In a brief online exchange Laird cited plausible deniability, commenting that he made no reference to anyone or anything, including the commercial, Nissan, or the Leaf. True, but we think you’ll forgive us for thinking we can make the assumption and hold on to our journalistic integrity.

“The commercial is cute, but its misleading and damaging to the EV movement,” says Rob Peterson, the man in charge of public relations for the Volt. His main issue with the ad, however, is in even comparing the two cars, which he sees as two very different vehicles based on their range capability.

“Many people are intrigued by electric cars but they don’t have the financial flexibility to own a second or even a third car. The Volt can be you only car.”

Ultimately, Peterson dismissed the spot, commenting that its, “long term effect will be relatively minimal.”

This isn’t the first such exchange between Chevy and Nissan either, with Chevrolet showing an ad at the Volt’s official world premiere at the LA Auto Show in which it’s referred to as more than just a “leaf blower”. The subtlety of that spot seems to have been replaced with a more explicit message and we have to wonder if it will continue to escalate as both Chevrolet and Nissan are vying to be recognized as the leader in new green automotive technology.

There’s a lot more at stake here than just hurt feelings or even the future of a single type of car. Both Nissan and Chevrolet have made commitments to the technologies used in their respective electrically-motivated vehicles, with the future of each automaker closely tied to the success of their flagship green product.

If you haven’t already, watch the Nissan spot after the jump:

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  • minime

    GM does a lot of “comparison” advertizing, much of which, IMO, is misleading or irrelevant about the other brand being compared, but you never hear a peep from those other manufacturers. Now that they get a little jab from Nissan and here they go, crying to mama.

    Hopefully when they declare bankruptcy next time the government won’t bail them out. GM’s priority sure isn’t paying back the taxpayer.,

  • GKnightBC

    Funny how GM can talk this way about an all electric vehicle, when their goldenboy, the Volt, has just recently been revealed as a Hybrid, and not the gas-charged electric we were all led to believe. Sure it runs on electric, well, sort of, until you exceed 50kph, then it’s a 4 cylynder ICE. At least the Leaf gives people the option of saving the $3000+ per year on gasoline costs. If I was to own, I WOULD rent a vehicle for long trips, because I’d save all that money on gas the rest of the year!

  • Al

    Quite frankly, the Leaf is extremely unreliable and I would rather spend my money on a 3 or 4 cylinder gasoline engine anyday!

  • BornCanadian48

    GM should concentrate on learning to run a company so they can stay off of corporate government welfare. There poor business sense is reason enough I will never own another of there vehicles.

  • VoltOwner

    GknightBC, you are misinformed. The Volt’s gas engine does not activate when the car reaches 50 kph. I just drove home going 75 mph. No gas was used. In fact, I got my volt in January, driven more than 3500 miles, and I still have not had to buy gas. I’m still using the original tank of gas that came with the car.

    The Volt is awesome. I love it. It’s a game changer. 9 out of 10 volt owners are new to the GM brand (as was I). I ditched an Audi for the Volt. My wife loves the Volt so much that she’s trading in her Lexus ASAP.

  • Glen richards

    Borncanadian48 and minime must surely be aware that Renault Nissan received billions of aid from the French government, I don’t undertand the logic of your comment threads!

  • mike

    My frist is that the electric automobiles are a joke as you have to plug them in too charge them and with the technology available today they could be made to generate there own power with out having to buy any from electrical companys. Just look at what has happened to our heating in our homes these electrical companys pushed this hard and now they Jake the cost of electricity every year so what do you think will happen to the cost of using a electric car when it could be built to not even need a charge from them.

  • GreaseDill

    GM could cure cancer and somebody would complain.

    If Nissan wants to do a cutesy ad and point out what they feel is a liability with a competitors product, they and their fans better expect the same to be returned.

  • RCS

    It looks like a desperate attempt by Nissan, GM has them scared.Battery technology isn’t here yet for totally electric. Nissan needs to hang on for a couple years,in the meantime they will whine.

  • seventhson

    Why not have an electric motor wind up a rubber band for propulsion. That way you could do double duty with that 2 HP router that sits on the workbench collecting dust. Lets get serious folks….air conditioning in Arizona, heating in Manitoba….not much juice left to get you to point “B”. What if your local power grid is suffering from a brownout….hop on the bus Gus. Where do proponents of electric cars think the power comes from…..(50% from black dirty coal, some nuclear and some hydro). The grid is constantly at a tipping point. Plugging in millions of cars will be the camel that breaks the straw’s back.

  • LilDaddyCaddy

    Looked at the Nissan Leaf at the auto show with a total open mind….it was total garbage! I would NEVER spend my money on that thing, on looks alone.
    Second, I actually drove a Chevy Volt. On the real, these cars really should not be compared anymore. There is no comparison AT ALL. The Volt in every way is a far superior product, PERIOD, over the Leaf, from a design standpoint, as well as a quality standpoint. GM could have done a “100%” electric car like Nissan has attempted to do, but they know that full on electric tech for cars just isn’t quite here yet. So, they mastered what is technically possible now in terms of keeping consumers satisfied and NOT STRANDED. Furthermore, Nissan needs to get a grip on how to handle range anxiety and the still growing number is unsatisfied customers due to being stranded. If I were them, I would be utterly embarrassed!!

  • BobNJ

    I’m also a Volt owner, the 38th Volt off the line. I think Nissan’s ad was very clever overall and I give them credit, but the Volt jab seems like an act of desperation. They’re hoping they can build up enough of a market for a car that’s always flirting with a tow truck, based on some idea of conceptual purity. BS.

    Like others who own Volts seem to agree, after over 6 months of ownership I more and more think the Volt is the most advanced, best engineered car in the world. For such a brand new concept and design, the level of execution is astonishing, and the pleasure of driving it is profound. So well thought out and functionally superior, it’s the best car purchase I ever made. I think the trophy case full of the most prestigious awards that the Volt won in its first year backs me up, and posters like minime and the woefully uninformed GKnightBC are pathetic. I can’t wait to see what GM is able to do with Volt2.0!

    As a postscript, the other car in my garage, a nice, low mileage 2004 Corvette, could have a For Sale sign in its near future. The Volt has stolen my heart, believe it or not.

  • Jay

    VoltOwner –

    please tell me you were exaggerating when you said you still have the same tank of gas from january…if thats true, when you go to actually use the gas…well lets just say the gas engine in your volt isn’t going to last very long if you keep it up.

    after say 10-12 weeks you shouldn’t run it through your engine at all

  • Rick

    GM blew it big time with the volt. Its too heavy too complex and gets BAD gas mileage. Not only does it not have the no-ice reliability advantage that the Leaf has but its got significant complexity disadvantages as well. Light weight gas powered vehicles cost less than half what GM wants for that albatross and get better mileage. Bottomline… its a bad design, not well thought out, yet another self-sabotage like the EV-1. The leaf on the other hand is perfect for what it is designed for. Short trips. Its a real vehicle not a golf cart. Its a practical vehicle not this century’s Edsel. Frankly I think its disgusting tax payers are subsidizing the sale and purchase of yet another Detroit disappointment.

  • Rick

    Then there is this… the real Volt sales figures are (not surprisingly) dismal, only being inflated by dealers claiming for themselves the tax payer subsidy see: which only to increases my outrage at the drubbing tax payers are takinga that ands of Detroit lobbyists and their fascist politicians.

  • LBCev

    Not to disagree with Mr. Laird but the Volt could never be my “only car”. Before I got my Leaf I seriously considered the Volt, but at the end of the day it did not have the passenger capacity that I need. If you never want to use gasoline, drive less than 70-100 miles a day and need seating for five then the Leaf turns out to be the better choice.

  • Tom

    “Detroit’s disappointment” is financed by the tax payers, along with the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf. The Volts numbers are low because they only built 10,000-15,000 this year and GM predicted that if gas remains at $4 that it will not be able to meet demand for the next 2 years. Do some research before you allow more crap to flow out of your mouth.

  • Richard Joash Tan

    Rick, you are bullshit! the Volt was named Motor Trend 2011 car of the year and the Leaf went first place in the recent Challenge Bibendum in berlin, Germany. Plus, I would/will prefer the BRP Can-am Spyder RT Limited.

  • Town

    If I had to choose between the Leaf and the Volt, it’d be the Volt by a country mile. When the battery runs out on the Leaf, you have a dead car that needs to be recharged. When the battery starts to run out on the Volt, the gas motor kicks in and you have many miles left to go. It is no fun having an electrically powered vehicle and a dead battery – I have been there. Is battery technology good enough yet? Probably not, but the Chevy Volt plays to the advantages of the internal combustion engine and the electric motor.


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