Longtime electric vehicle advocate Paul Scott, vice president of California-based Plug-In America, likes the Nissan Leaf so much that … well, he decided to start selling them. Wanna buy an electric car? Paul has a deal for you.
It’s pretty unusual for nonprofit environmental guys to actually put their money where their mouth is. They’re more likely to bash corporations than to go to work for one. But Scott, who’s been a major electric vehicle advocate since taking delivery of a plug-in Toyota RAV4 in 2002 and was one of the leaders in trying to save the GM EV-1 from the crusher, is really sold on the Leaf, and Nissan’s mission in promoting it.
In June, Scott journeyed to Japan and met with Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn (see photo below). “Carlos is a hard-core money guy,” said Scott. “He figured out that electric cars are going to be the future, and so as the price of oil escalates, Nissan will have a giant head start on everyone else.”
After coming back, Scott started kicking around the idea of going to work for Nissan, and first thought of being a motivational speaker. “I can talk to 300 people, and by the end of the talk 90 percent of them will want to buy an electric car,” he said. “I’m good at motivating people.” Nissan didn’t have an opening for a motivational speaker, but he lives in Santa Monica, Calif., and Santa Monica Nissan is just down the street.
A meeting was arranged with the owner of the dealership, and they bonded. “I’ve never sold cars before, but I have sold solar and visual effects,” said Scott, who doubles as a salesman of photovoltaic systems for big residential retailer SolarCity. What are visual effects? I didn’t know, but I don’t live in L.A. — apparently, they’re the computer enhancements that movie companies use to make explosions look bigger.
So the Leaf will go on sale in December, and the company announced just this week that it is starting the “order specification” phase. People with $99 reservations can now choose their color and trim level. That means that Scott has to go through training so he can explain how all the little doodads, such as the electronic dashboard, work. He has to get a license to sell cars, too.
“I came to the conclusion that I wanted to personally help Nissan get the car into drivers’ hands,” Scott said on his blog, prompting a “Way to go, Paul!” comment from "Who Killed the Electric Car?" director Chris Paine. Felix Kramer of CalCars.org (the father of the plug-in hybrid) added, “You’ve turned that oft-criticized occupation, ‘salesman,’ into a badge of honor.”
Now Scott just needs people to buy Leafs from him so he meets his quota. “We will deliver all over Southern California,” he says hopefully. And if you score a Leaf, he knows how to hook you up with a SolarCity PV system so the whole thing will be zero emission. Way to go, Paul!