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2011 Nissan Leaf: Questioning the Logic of the Leaf Salute

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2011 Nissan Leaf

author photo by Joni Gray September 2011

Now that Hal and I are founding members of the Nissan Leaf EV car cult, I'm trying to catch up with the viral campaign hatched this summer around the incorporation of an owner "wave" or "salute." Nissan picked up on the idea and created a Facebook survey to find a special wave Leaf owners can use to greet each other on the road.

Trying to force a tradition isn't easy, and it doesn't always stick. To see if they could rally Leaf owners' support around the idea, Nissan first threw out a few ideas and asked for additional suggestions, which we covered in an earlier post. The winning wave, posted in early August, was the manual dexterity-dependent, "Live Long and Prosper" salute. As many of you may know, it was first seen as the Vulcan salute on the original Star Trek TV series.

And, of course, the cynics were out in full force during the process. Automobile magazine opened the contest up to ridicule, followed by a hilarious lampoon about it on the Stephen Colbert Report. In reference to Nissan's effort to institute the wave, Colbert, with straight-faced sarcasm, groaned that after all, "those grassroots-organic-slow-food-locavore types who buy electric cars loooove manufactured traditions." But, waxing serious later in the segment, Colbert ends with a stern safety exhortation to Nissan, firmly stating that the proper hand gestures while driving a car are "ten and two o'clock."

Nissan responded by extending the deadline, probably hoping more people would vote after such mass-market publicity. However, in the end, only 262 votes were tallied on the Facebook survey, with more than half of those votes going to the winning wave. With 6,187 owners and over 120,000 Facebook "likes," any math will tell you it's hardly statistically representative of our already small group.

I am logically factoring all this data into my own behavior as a Leaf owner. Will I awkwardly form my hands in a Vulcan salute to my fellow Leafers? Although it's a fine message of global peace, after all this cultural public ridicule I liken the idea of it to wearing a Star Trek t-shirt to your first day of high school.

One of the early forum posts on the topic suggested flashing your lights as a symbol of camaraderie, and I "like" that best. Of course, it was summarily dismissed by a hypermiler who posted that it would drain the car's battery charge. But, as a Leaf-owning contrarian, I think the flashing of the lights would be seen by other owners instead as an act of generosity. After all, a sighting of another Leaf still remains a rare find and what says love more than draining the battery life out of your electric car? It would also accentuate the Leaf's unique, bulbous light design.

Time will tell if our little "club" can truly pull together and create a cult-like sign language of our own like the Chevy Corvette, Jeep Wrangler and VW Beetle. For now, we should heed the wise words of the Starfleet Enterprise's Lieutenant Commander until such a time when pure logic can be applied to the dilemma here on the planet earth.

Want to learn more? Follow our long-term test of the Nissan Leaf.

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