Nissan is using the outpouring of interest in the Tesla Model 3 as the basis of a new print ad appearing today in the New York Times, Los Angeles TimesUSA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. The ad reminds people they don’t have to wait until 2017 (or 2018 or possibly 2019, given Tesla’s inability to get its products to market on time in the past) to drive an all electric car. All they need to do is hop on over to their nearest Nissan dealer and grab a shiny new LEAF. After federal rebates, a LEAF S can cost as little as $22, 360 including transportation.

Nissan LEAF ad

Rather than take a chance on new technology that might not be ready for prime time, a buyer can get a car that has been honed and smoothed since 2010. That last part is a not so subtle dig at Tesla’s Model X, which has been experiencing its share of teething problems of late. Of course, some may quibble that the somewhat indifferent styling of the LEAF bears no more relationship to the svelte Model 3 than a fish does to a bicycle, but the major premise of the ad is correct. You can buy a LEAF before the sun goes down this afternoon. The Model 3? Who knows when it will be available?

“No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today,” trumpets the new Nissan ad. Is this the sort of new direction Christian Meunier, Nissan’s sales and marketing chief for North America, was talking about when he announced a bold new advertising strategy recently? Most sales professionals believe that attacking the competition is usually less effective than touting the virtues of your own product. Still, the new ad has a certain sly appeal.

Actually, the ad ends up highlighting the current not so rosy prospect for electric cars in America. “Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Leaf now?” it asks. “And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?” If the LEAF is such a great car, why is Nissan offering a substantial rebate to induce people to buy one?

Nissan originally expected to sell up to 150,000 Leafs a year in the U.S. market. In addition, it planned to offer an all electric Infiniti model and an electric version of its NV200 commercial van. (The electric NV200 is available in other markets.) But the bullish outlook for electric cars collapsed when gas prices tumbled last year. Consumer interest in electrics, plug-in hybrids, and hybrids plunged. Nissan LEAF sales were down 43% last year to 17,269 deliveries. During the first quarter of this year, sales fell another 28% to 2,931 vehicles

The electric car revolution may be alive and well in some countries, but in America, people will continue to gorge themselves on ground pounding behemoths until NYC is swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean, just as long as they can fill up for around 2 bucks a gallon. Nissan’s ad may be clever, but it pokes as much fun at itself as it does at Tesla. Like most other manufacturers, it is insanely jealous of Tesla for getting nearly 400,000 people to place a reservation on its Model 3.

How could Nissan do the same? That’s simple. Build a great electric car then sit back and watch the orders flow in. Somehow, that is a concept most car companies just can’t seem to understand.

Source: Automotive News