I've been writing a lot about sustainable business recently for a secret reason that will soon be revealed. One of the lessons I came across time and again when researching the subject (and one I've already commented on elsewhere) is that it's absolutely great having, say, environmentally friendly products. But if you really want to be serious in sustainability, you have to be able to sell those products at a similar price to the non-friendly alternative. People do want to be sustainable, but not at a huge price.
I really thought manufacturers had got the hang of this. Then along comes the Nissan Leaf. My main car use is pootling around on 5 to 20 mile journeys, so for me an electric car would be ideal. (When I do long journeys I swap cars with 'er indoors.) The Leaf looks superb. Usually the cars I feel that I really want are totally impractical. (Words like Aston Martin and Morgan spring to mind.) But I genuinely would love a Leaf. It looks good, the performance is fine and it is indubitably green. (You can argue about the greenness production side, but that's for another post.)
Great, I thought. Where do I sign up? Now an equivalent petrol car would probably start at around £12,000. Fair enough. I expected a bit of a premium, but there's a £5,000 government incentive, so that should cover the difference. After all, lesson #1 is 'don't price your sustainable products much higher than the normal ones.' So what does it cost? Prices start at £23,990. And that's with the £5,000 off.
Come on, Nissan. It might have to be a loss leader to start with, but if you get production up high enough, you can crack a decent price. You know it makes sense.