International Slap Fight: Nissan, Fiat at Odds Over Leaf, 500e Styling

By Trevor Dorchies | December 05, 2012
The white glove has been removed and swung across Fiat's collective face after representatives from the Italian automaker made a comment about the Nissan Leaf's styling at last month's Los Angeles Auto Show. Before pulling the silk sheet off the Fiat 500e, Fiat's head of product marketing, Matt Davis, made a comment about Nissan's all-electric vehicle calling it "visual pollution." Nissan didn't take too kindly to that and returned fire by simply deflecting the insult, and returning it to its sender. "Let's face it, Fiat has not shied away from controversial styling themselves," said Nissan head of global marketing communications Simon Sproule to Automotive News. "Many would describe many of [Fiat's] products as visual pollution. Take a long, hard look at the Fiat Doblo." The Fiat Doblo, along with the Ram ProMaster van, will be joining Chrysler's North American lineup soon but unlike the Ram variant, no timetable has been given yet for when it will arrive. Nissan wasn't finished with Fiat though, as Davis continued to rip the Italian automaker for only bringing the 500e to California so regulators would finally stop badgering them.
"[Fiat] chose the smallest vehicle in their range with the least amount of passenger functionality," Sproule said to Automotive News. "I don't think they have the credibility or the hardware to stand behind these kind of statements. Either you're committed to it or not." Gauntlet, meet ground. Even though the first shot was fired by Fiat, Nissan's on shaky ground, partly because Leaf sales have been anything but good. Through 11 months of 2012, Leaf sales slumped to the tune of five percent,with 8,330 vehicles sold so far, despite wider availability. However, Nissan believes that a lacking charging infrastructure combined with range anxiety is the real reason why the Leaf has been slow to sell, not its looks. If any more comes of this--we're anticipating a full escalation to a They Live-style alley fight--we'll bring it right to you. [polldaddy poll=6746203] Source: Automotive News Europe (subscription required)