Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beautiful lies

People have long accused advertisers of being shameless hucksters, weasels, liars and worse. This commercial from Nissan is a classic example of why.

While the copy doesn't actually say it, the clear implication is that the Nissan Leaf is better for the environment than a gasoline powered car because it runs on electricity.

Here's the copy for the spot so elegantly read by Robert Downey, Jr.

What is the value of zero? 
Is it nothing? 
Imagine zero dependency on foreign oil.
Zero pollutants in our environment. 
Zero depletion of the ozone. 
Suddenly zero starts adding up. 
Which is why we at Nissan built a car inspired by zero. 
Because zero is worth more than nothing.
Zero is worth everything.
The zero gas 100% electric Nissan Leaf.
Innovation for the planet. Innovation for all.

You see, the Leaf is inspired by zero, so it must be better than a gas powered car, right?


An electric car uses up to .3 kWh per kilometer of energy which creates about 200 grams of CO2 emissions at your typical U.S. power plant. The average gasoline-powered car produces 167 grams of CO2 per kilometer at the tailpipe.

So this shiny, happy plug-in electric that can barely go 40 miles before you need to recharge it, is actually responsible for putting more greenhouse gasses in the air than my Audi.

Electric cars are not the answer; not given our current battery technology and our antiquated power generation system that burns mostly coal.

If you're really concerned about the environment drive less, carpool, take the bus, ride a bicycle, turn down your thermostat, recycle your cans, but don't buy an electric car; at least until all our power comes from solar, wind and hydroelectric and that's going to happen right about... never.

No matter how Nissan and Chiat try to spin it, this car will not clean up our world.


  1. "Typical" powerplant CO2 emissions vary widely state to state.

    In Northern California the result would be less than 100 gms CO2/km.

    Michigan is about 215 gms CO2/km.

    Kentucky is about 310 gms CO2/km..

    Short story - The Leaf reduces (not eliminates) CO2 emissions in California, but increases them in Michigan and Kentucky (a lot in Kentucky).

    To "clean up our world" would require less reliance on coal generation (and to a lessor extent natural gas generation) and more reliance on nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar.

  2. My point exactly. It isn't zero and the people at Nissan and Chiat are smart enough to know that's what people hear, even though that's not precisely what they're saying...