If you're going to sell something, it helps if you believe in it. Paul Scott, who's not only a Los Angeles-based salesman for the Nissan Leaf but a longtime advocate for EVs through the group Plug In America, believes. And his passion has translated into profit — Scott has sold 204 Leafs to date, making him the number five top performer nationwide. So far, 27,000 have been sold globally, with the U.S. and Japan running neck and neck (Europe is a distant third).
Nissan needs true believers as it gears up for the start of U.S. production this fall. "We're going to have a lot of Leafs to sell then," said Scott. "It's a big marketing push."
Scott's approach is unique. He's not selling Nissans; he's selling the Leaf. "I only sell that one car and nothing else," he said. "My goal is to get all the gas burners off the road, replacing them with plug-in cars. I spend a lot of time giving speeches at various EV events, universities and private companies. Through a program I call 'Let Downtown Come to You,' I've done test rides at Sony, United Talent Agency and government offices, and test rides almost always result in a sale. I take it directly to the customer to get the word out that these great cars are available now with no waiting. If people aren't quite in the price range yet, I tell them to wait a few years until first-year Leafs come off lease and are sold as used cars."
Scott might face more sales resistance elsewhere. Los Angeles, along with San Francisco and San Diego, are key cities for EV adoption, and California is the key state. More than half of the U.S. market is there. California offers ideal weather for battery cars, abundant early adopters, and perks including $2,500 rebates and free single-occupancy access to HOV lanes. Even hybrids like the Prius don't get that.
Scott walks the talk, and that helps in the sincerity department. He owns a Leaf, but also a long-term Toyota RAV4. "Since I have nearly a decade of driving EVs and running my house on solar, I impress upon my customers how much better it is to 'drive on sunshine' than use dirty electricity to power their cars. I look at their homes on Google Maps, and if they have viable roofs for solar, I pitch them on it. Many of my customers have opted for that as well." The photovoltaic panels are from SolarCity, a company (run by Lyndon Rive, cousin to Tesla's Elon Musk) that offers innovative leasing options — and has just come to Connecticut.
Nissan is appreciative of Scott's zeal for the Leaf. Company spokesman Steve Oldham told me, "It goes without saying that Paul has been a major driver of Leaf sales in California; his dedication to and advocacy of electric vehicles has put many Leafs on the road."
Scott had originally hoped to get Nissan to hire him as a motivational speaker, but there wasn't room for that in the budget. One would imagine he's better off on the ground floor, making sales and getting a taste of the real-world challenges of electrifying our oil-addicted planet.
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