Nissan has made its Leaf electric car central to its brand positioning around sustainability. The corporation has also launched a promotional Web site about environmental awareness.
The site, which is a project out of its Japan corporate headquarters, features a game called "The Planet Zero." The game allows players to control a character shaped like an electric plug that roams a virtual Earth, interacting with different icons for things like wind energy, solar power, and other elements of a zero-emission society.
Players can click on different elements embedded on the planet, and in doing so are taken to different levels of game play -- other virtual verdant landscapes where they roam trees, savannahs and other realms.
Nissan says the game, for high school and college-age kids, is intended to offer a vision of a neo-futuristic, zero-emission world. Right now the game has four stages of play, with more to come. The effort, via Dwarf, Inc., Enjin, Inc. Masayuki Kido and Roxik (with music developed by Otograph), also includes something called "Flip Book Studio" where viewers can follow a green-themed narrative.
In the U.S., the automaker has launched new smartphone applications for the Leaf car that allow owners to check vehicle status and control elements of the vehicle remotely. The new apps are for BlackBerry and Android operating systems. The application first launched on iPhone when the car went on sale last December. The app allows owners to do things like check charge status and start the charging process, pre-cool or heat the vehicle, and monitor vehicle status.
Nissan, which saw a 6.4% increase in sales across all vehicles last month in the U.S., said that it has so far sold 10,100 Leafs worldwide. Before July began, the automaker had sold fewer than 4,000 of the cars in the U.S. and was averaging sales of about 1,500 Leafs each month here. Through last month, the company posted sales of about 931 of the electric cars; it is still ahead of Chevrolet.
The General Motors division reported that it sold about 125 of its Volt electric cars in July, and 2,870 of the vehicles since it went on sale in mid-December. But the company's lower numbers reflect -- at least in part -- the fact that its Volt manufacturing facility in Detroit had, until recently, been offline for retooling. The automaker projects sales of 16,000 of the cars this year.