In January 2013, Nissan cut the Leaf's price by $6,400. Meanwhile, it enhanced marketing of the Leaf, putting it on the shopping list of those looking for a small "green" car. The value of that marketing cannot be overstated.
Look at the Chevy Volt, which has not gotten much advertising support from General Motors. Although GM is often quick to point out it's not fair to compare the Volt and Leaf—one is an extended-range electric car, while the other is all-electric, and they sell at different price points—Volt sales are down 23 percent this year.
Subaru's Forester quietly racking up sales
The all-new Subaru Forester shows that a redesigned crossover utility vehicle has a strong chance of connecting with buyers. It also doesn't hurt that the CUV was the only such model to earn a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
It's always a struggle to determine exactly how much a strong performance in the crash tests helps spur sales, but it's clear Subaru is getting more attention following solid reports from the IIHS, and most recently by Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book.
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Forester sales jumped 95 percent last month compared with February 2013, and they're up 78 percent so far in 2014.
Subaru is a conservative automaker, so it will be interesting to see how much it pushes marketing of the Forester this spring.
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.