From my point of view, the apparent plagiarism, while amusing, is less interesting than what this episode says about how various car companies are using story as they try to define their place in the world of electric cars. The fact that the same spot can be used for all three brands suggests that no one has carved out any unique story territory yet.
It reminds me of MP3 players before the iPod. A large group of competitors were piling into the category, battling with each other over a catalogue of features that conveyed very little meaning to most consumers. By contrast, Apple entered the category with a strong story that went beyond the literal new technology. The iPod seemed like such a brilliant collision of technology and intuition that many consumers perceived it as an altogether new kind of device.
Toyota captured that kind of story energy for hybrid vehicles with the Prius. It is significant that, in both cases–iPod and Prius–the story energy was unique enough and authentic enough to reflect back on the parent brands themselves.
I don’t know that there is anything wrong with Nissan and Renault spending money to tell the category story of electric cars (questions of creative integrity aside). But it does feel like the territory is wide open for someone to stake a much more engaging and compelling claim to a unique story.
I’d love to know if you see this same dynamic playing out in any other categories.