Nissan Plays Sustainability Game With New Website

theplanetzero2010 was the year when the electric vehicle went closer to the mainstream with the launch of two models: Nissan’s Leaf and Chevrolet’s Volt. The Leaf has been the most successful of the two so far, with sales of 10,100 units while the Volt has sold 2,029 units.

Nissan is working hard to promote its electric vehicle offering as an icon of an emissions-free age. Last week, the Japanese automaker unveiled a charging system whereby the Leaf can feed power back to a house, effectively doubling as a backup storage battery. It can store enough electricity to power an average Japanese home for 48 hours.

The initiative is particularly useful in post-psunami Japan where blackouts and outages have become commonplace and the phasing out of nuclear power will probably leave energy supply gaps until alternative energy options are fully in place.

Last month Nissan also demonstrated a system whereby electricity is generated through 488 solar cells that were installed on the roof of its headquarters in Yokohama near Tokyo. Nissan said that four batteries from the Leaf were placed in a box in a cellar-like part of the building, and stored the electricity generated from the solar cells, which is enough to fully charge 1,800 Leaf vehicles a year.

Concomitant with Nissan's efforts, the popularity of electric vehicles is spreading. Earlier this week the Ontario government in Canada announced it will invest $80 million to promote investment in electric car charging stations. The province already offers up to $8,500 in incentives to electric car buyers who are also entitled to a green plate that grants them access to high occupancy vehicle lanes.

The Planet Zero

Now Nissan has launched a website to promote environmental awareness and sustainability. The website features a game called The Planet Zero and it allows players to control a travelling animated electric plug who is called PLUG. It interacts with different icons to produce wind energy, solar power and other forms of energy of a low-carbon reality.

The Planet Zero is targeted at high school and college age students. Set in the neo-futuristic, zero-emission world, users can experience a mechanism of zero-emission beating games with the characters.

There are initially four stages in this game and more stages will be added later as needed, Nissan said. With secret commands, users are allowed to play as many times as they want.

Planet Zero also features a user-participatory website called FLIP BOOK STUDIO. Users can contribute and view flip book animation with PLUG on this website.

The UK Independent noted that there’s a trend to use games as tools to promote awareness of environmental issues, sustainability, climate change and alternative energy. It mentioned eMission and Ecotopia as examples of these online initiatives.

Besides using online games to promote Leaf, Nissan has also tapped into the smartphone market by launching applications that allow Leaf owners to manage their cars remotely. The new apps are designed for BlackBerry and Android OS, following an initial launch for iPhone that coincided with the car launch in December.

Image credit: screenshot of The Planet Zero website.