Starting late this year, Nissan will join the Formula E all-electric racing series. The automaker's European boss for electric vehicles, Gareth Dunsmore, sees the move as a great opportunity to put the recently launched second-generation Leaf in front of a new group of potential customers. He explained why to Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Will Nissan's move into Formula E help to make EVs sexier?
It absolutely shows EVs are exciting. I've driven a Nissan Leaf since 2012 and I've got this knowing Leaf smile. Every Leaf customer has it. It's a sort of smug satisfaction that you know something that the guy driving an internal combustion engine car next to you doesn't know. That is the excitement you get from the instant torque. What better way to demonstrate that than with Formula E?
Will this move help you reach a new customer group?
Nissan has been committed to putting its investments into global sporting competitions to portray our brand message to more customers. A prime example is our involvement in the Champions League. That has given us the ability to tell our stories and to engage with many people who wouldn't normally be looking for a car brand in that setting. Combining the expertise that we've built up in racing to go into Formula E with our EV expertise is a natural next step for us.
What message do you want to send with the move into Formula E?
With Formula E, it's all about zero emissions and electric, but the real key for us is that fan engagement. There is a big difference between seeing something on TV and experiencing it or hearing about it from a friend or from a family member who has engaged with it.