Dear Nissan USA, My offer still stands


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The Nissan LEAF battery powered vehicle.


Today, Nissan unveiled its all electric vehicle (EV) that it is branding the Nissan LEAF. The battery-powered car (this is not a hybrid) will have a fully charged range of 100 miles. While the car and battery will eventually be manufactured in the Nashville area, the first LEAFs available in the US was be imported from Japan starting late in 2010. (Nissan USA has its headquarters and major manufacturing facilities in the Nashville area.)

As close readers of this blog know, on July 12, I wrote here that I would like to purchase one of these vehicles when they are available in the U.S. As the company has already announced that Tennessee will be among the first U.S. locations where the car will roll out, I am continuing today with my campaign to let this blog be among the first non-automotive media to cover the vehicle. And just to reiterate what I wrote last month, this is not a request to try out the car or get any type of sponsorship. I want to purchase the car. My only request is that I be allowed to purchase one of the first production units for sale in the U.S. I would also like to, at my own expense, travel to Japan to see the first Nissan EVs roll off the assembly line. As of yet, no one from Nissan has contacted me.

First comment: I will use the car for work-related city driving that will average around 15 miles per day. The model I purchase won’t be the color of the model above, although it might appeal to some other Tennessee Titans fans.

Other coverage:

Businessweek: The Auto Beat blog

Rueters: Nissan unveils zero-emission hatchback “Leaf”

The Auto Blog: 2010 Nissan Leaf electric car: In person, in depth — and U.S. bound

My reverse PR pitch: Help me convince Nissan to sell me an ‘EV’

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A Nissan “Cube” electronic vehicle (EV)
concept car was unveiled last year, but
Nissan has said its first North American
production EV will “appear totally different.”

I’m constantly surprised by the number of “pitches” I get from PR people wanting me to blog about some product. The pitch e-mail starts out something like, “Hey Rex, I really enjoy reading your blog” and then it suggests I write about a company’s new baby stroller or gourmet beef jerky.

This blog, as you’re likely aware, isn’t really about anything. So it sure isn’t about products I’m pitched. If I write about products or services, they are something I’ve purchased myself, have used and found noteworthy. Or, on occasion, I might post something about a product that has a unique story or maybe is something I know about through my work, or through friends — or maybe it has some hometown Nashville-connection I find of interest. As long as it has nothing to do with baby strollers or beef jerky.

Today, I’ve decided to try something new: A reverse-pitch in which I publicly ask a company (with a Nashville connection) to allow me to buy something from them so that I can blog about it. And I’d like your help if anyone reading this is in any way connected to a PR person at Nissan North America or one of their agencies. As the company’s headquarters are located about 15 miles from where I live and work, the odds of one of you knowing someone who knows someone at Nissan North America is better than, say, Paris Hilton knowing a member of Mensa.

Here’s my pitch to Nissan: I want to purchase one of the first Nissan electric vehicles (EVs) when they are available in North America next year. (Note: Nissan already has hybrid vehicles — what I’m writing about here is an all electric car.)

I first mentioned my desire to buy one on February 17 when the company indicated that it plans to make Tennessee one of the first locations where the company will sell the new car next year.

Today, the Tennessean has an update on Nissan’s plans for the car that will be unveiled (at least, a concept version) on August 2 in Japan. A year ago, Nissan unveiled an all electric concept version of its Cube model, but at the time said the EV slated for the U.S. market will “appear totally different” in production. Like earlier reports, the Tennessean says, “the car will go on sale in the United States in 2010, with the first models imported from Japan.” A few weeks ago, Nissan said it plans to eventually assemble the EV at its Smyrna, Tenn. (another town outside Nashville) plant in late 2012, using batteries made here at a new facility to be built and financed, in part, by a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. government as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

I want my car to be in the first batch of cars sold in the U.S. — even bloggers like scoops. Sure, sure, I know all the official “first ones” Nissan will need to provide dignitaries and crash-test dummies. All I’m asking for is to be able to purchase one of the first EVs Nissan sells to regular consumers. And while I’ve never really blogged about cars (I drive a ten-year-old Volvo), I have a perfect short commute the vehicle is designed for — I typically travel less than 15 miles per day in my car. (I must say, I also find that $7,500 tax credit — a Stimulus Plan gift — rather appealing.)

Obviously, as this blog is about stuff I do, I’ll write about my experiences as an owner of the car and as people who read my blog know, I’m generally a fan-boy when it comes to Nashville-connected stuff. But I’ll be objective as this will be purchased 100% with money out of my pocket and won’t be some loaner deal auto companies typically do with those who cover the industry.

But if that’s not enough of a pitch, here’s a major sweetner: At my expense, I’d like to travel to Japan to blog about my car (or one like it) as it is being assembled. Is that a pitch, or what?

So there you have it: I purchase an EV and pay for 100% of any expense related to visiting the plant in Japan where it will be manufactured. In return, all I ask for is the opportunity to purchase one of the first Nissan EVs imported to the U.S. so that I can blog about it early. In other words, I do all the kind of stuff PR people try to get me to do all the time.

The benefit to Nissan: Tremendous awareness of the new car among the 12 people who read this blog and follow me on Twitter.

What more could you ask?

P.S.: I’m easy to find and contact.