Gap Score

Nissan is the biggest riser on this year’s Best Global Green Brands, increasing 16 spots by continuing to push ahead with its electric, zero-emissions vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, and impressive work increasing its disclosure of policies, programs, and impacts. As local manufacturing of the Nissan LEAF gets underway in Europe and the United States, the story of the car is beginning to shift from a product with potential to one with visible commercial momentum, with 25,000 cars sold in the US and KBB naming it the Best Green Car of 2013. Despite the challenges of the past year—from consumer “range anxiety” to difficulty expanding charging stations beyond the US Pacific coast—the Nissan LEAF has had a positive impact on the Nissan brand. The automaker’s challenge is one facing the entire auto industry: driving adoption. There is still a long way to go in terms of shifting consumer mindsets to embrace electric vehicles and building out an EV-supporting infrastructure across the globe, but higher sales, a continuously improving product (it was named the IIHS top safety pick) with a more affordable price tag, and initial returns on a $5 billion investment will ensure the Nissan LEAF’s viability. Beyond electric vehicles, Nissan is also supporting its hybrid line-up with four new cars in the US and pushing on diesel products, as well. Committed to reducing the impact of its vehicles even further, Nissan plans to cut 15 percent of vehicle weight starting in 2017 with newly developed 1.2 gigapascal steel technology. This new technology will help make cars lighter, resulting in less fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. Adding to its zero-emission goals, Nissan has also joined forces with Daimler and Ford to develop a line of affordable fuel-cell cars that will roll out in 2017. Nissan learned a lot and absorbed a bit of criticism in 2012, but its brand stewards stayed focused and found a way to keep moving forward.