2013 Nissan LEAF Hits A Sales Stumbling Block In Japan

4 years ago by Jay Cole 10

A 2013 LEAF Gets A Boost At Nissan Dealership In Japan

A 2013 LEAF Gets A Boost At Nissan Dealership In Japan

Whoopsie On March!

Whoopsie On March!

The 2013 Nissan LEAF has been available the longest in Japan, and it appears that the 75 mile EV has experienced its first sales hiccup there, leaving us to wonder if the LEAF’s resurgence in the United States might also wane more to historical norms in the coming months.

First introduced to the Japanese market on November 20th, 2012, and on sale shortly thereafter, the 2013 edition of the LEAF was met with basically the same high level of enthusiasm as it was here in the US in March and April.

In the four months before the announcement (July to October of 2012), and subsequent discounting of the 2012 model in the fall, Nissan had sold 2,818 cars in Japan, good for about 700 per month.

Then, in the 2013 LEAF’s first 2 full months on the market in January and February of this year, it sold about 85% better, averaging almost 1,300 (January – 1,137, February – 1,455).

However, as Nissan reported sales for March in Japan, sales have returned closer to the historical norm, with only 676 LEAFs sold.

Obligatiory CEO with Vehicle Image

Obligatiory CEO with Vehicle Image

Similarly in the US, the 2012 LEAF was selling around 600 units a month before intense discounting started in the fall of 2012.

Then, for the 2013 LEAF’s first two months, sales have also greatly increased, this time by about 350%, averaging almost 2,100 units sold over that time  (March – 2,236, April – 1,937).

And while we still see more demand for the LEAF in May in America, as inventory has yet to make it to eager dealers and customers nationwide, when cars have saturated the market, might we see a result like in Japan?

Could Nissan USA also regress back to selling less than 1,000 LEAFs per month?  Or was the Japanese number just a single month anomoly for some other, less obvious reason?  We hope it is the latter.

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10 responses to "2013 Nissan LEAF Hits A Sales Stumbling Block In Japan"

  1. Mark H says:

    Good article Jay. I think this applies to all EVs. Although discounting helps (a lot in the beginning and less over time), IMO the learning curve and acceptance is going to dictate EV sales for a long time. The best indicator is the progression of hybrids. A Prius @ 50 mpg is and has been a more economical solution overan ICE for a long time yet it steadily grows based on what? The good news is that EVs will steadily grow over our lifetime until one day it will be the dominant vehicle on the road.

    EVs just crossed the 25,000 mark in the US. That is nearly half of 2012 after only four months!
    The glass is half full or for engineers it is 2x too large for the application!

  2. bloggin says:

    Leaf is actually doing quite well in Japan.

    The Japanese auto market is about 1/5 the size of the American auto market, and 99% Japanese only brands.

    Total April Sales:
    – Japan: 213,165
    – USA: 1,285,446

    Which means Japan April Leaf sales of 676 equates to about 3,380 units US. Leaf sales were .4% of all Japan auto sales, compared with .2% of all US auto sales.

    Which is very good, as Nissans total April sales were 29,813. Which is 2.3% of all Nissan Japan sales for April.

  3. I would also want to know the number of LEAFs on dealers’ lots and in their showrooms before drawing any conclusions. The March sales tally in Japan might be because of low supply, rather than low demand: it’s impossible to sell more cars than are available for sale. For example, perhaps Nissan is now shipping a larger percentage of the right-hand drive LEAFs coming out Oppama to Australia and New Zealand to kickstart the rollouts there. Knowing the sales *and* inventory figures for all three countries would help.

  4. scottf200 says:

    USA sales are hard to analyze with our tax credit of $7,500 timing, with the new TN plant inventory boost, and new 2013 features. And buyers holding off until 2013 for these latter things.

    Overall any good EV sales (USA Apr) help all plug-ins and getting it through the sometime customer narrow perspective and math.

  5. zilm says:

    They probably have other season cycles, look (mitsu only, 2012):
    12: I-MiEV 137, MINICAB-M 121
    11: I-MiEV 189, MINICAB-M 133
    10: I-MiEV 141, MINICAB-M 128
    09: I-MiEV 212, MINICAB-M 197
    08: i-MiEV 86, MINICAB-M 107
    07: I-MiEV 157, MINICAB-M 200
    06: I-MiEV 288, MINICAB-M 256
    05: I-MiEV 142, MINICAB-M 134
    04: i-MiEV 39, MINICAB-M 31
    03: I-MiEV 117, MINICAB-MiEV 123
    02: I-MiEV 446, MINICAB-MiEV 590
    01: I-MiEV 341, MINICAB-MiEV 467

    So nothing wrong with not so strong march

  6. zilm says:

    And check out this link
    http://www.nissan-global.com/JP/NEWS/2013/_STORY/130419-01-j.html
    use google to translate
    Compare prices to your 2012 post: nissan lower it prices ~10% in april, 2 weeks ago. So 2012 yr prices discount was only minor in japan, now they got new cool prices.

  7. If I recall correctly, some Japanese incentives ended March 31, 2013. On April 19, 2013 Nissan lowered price of LEAF「日産リーフ」for Japanese market. http://www.nissan-global.com/JP/NEWS/2013/_STORY/130419-01-j.html

    The effect can be seen in higher March (vs Feb) sales as new owners bought ahead of deadline. A similar bump in sales can be seen in November with 2013 LEAF「リーフ」model launch. http://www.nissan-global.com/JP/NEWS/2012/_STORY/121120-01-j.html

    In US, dealers in CA, OR, and WA have discovered they have a hot green seller. There were reports (rumors) that Nissan denied request by dealers to host a regional sales event as nationally the LEAF inventory hasn’t returned to normal levels, with switch to US-TN production.

    Globally about 60,000 LEAFs「リーフ」have found homes to date.

    1. Steve T says:

      I believe some part of the old incentive ended and a new began in Japan, but Nissan also changed the price on the leaf so that the price was about the same between march & april

      Also if there was a big change down on march 31 would not march be even higher not lower?

  8. zilm says:

    If incentives are over in March, it becomes clear why they choose april for lowering the price.

  9. evnow says:

    In Japan the year ends in March. But the way Japanese incentives work, people need to buy in Feb to make sure they can get the incentives in that fiscal year. So you see big sales in Feb – and a drop in March.

    Just like our December – Jan numbers.