User Experience starts very early. It includes the prejudices they come to the table with and the slogan you put on the first TV commercial they saw. Nissan and Chevy have two very different approaches.
Chevy Volt: It’s more car than electric.
There are several messages hidden inside this slogan. This is a $30k-$40k car that goes 40 miles on a charge before kicking into a normal engine. By saying its more car than electric the message is “electric isn’t good or desirable to us, cars are good and desirable. We don’t really want to be doing this, but stupid eco-hipsters are making us.”
Even the name, Volt emphasizes the obvious electric aspect rather than name it something more abstract like all of their other cars. They don’t have a “Chevy Gasoline”; they have a Chevy Malibu. Naming it the Volt shows a profound lack of imagination and a passive aggressive stance that truly does not love electric vehicles.
The people who want to buy a leaf are fairly well off and can afford a car in that price range. They truly want an electric vehicle that does not use a drop of gasoline. I want one of these, except I can’t afford it. The Volt slogan and name completely turn me off because they are obvious and ham-handed.
Nissan Leaf: The New Car: 100% Electric, No Gas
Notice the completely different approach here. “Leaf” emphasizes the abstraction. Why do we want electric cars? Because it saves the air and helps the trees. An abstraction will beat literal every single time. “Books.com” can’t sell a refrigerator, but Amazon.com could. Abstraction is a hugely powerful UX tool.
Additionally, the slogan emphasizes the electric nature not the traditional gas/car nature taken by the volt. It’s almost as if they said, “It’s more electric than car”, just to be the opposite of the Volt. I believe that the Nissan Leaf’s slogans sets up the better experience for the user and resonates better with their intended audience’s point of view.
The UX game is played at all levels and at all times. These cars aren’t on the road yet, but the battle for hearts and minds is already well under way.