How Nissan LEAF Buyers Are Unique

5 years ago by Eric Loveday 14

What's it take to sell a Nissan LEAF?

Believe it or not, Nissan LEAF buyers are unique.  That’s certainly no surprise, but what’s unusual here is that potential LEAF buyers are a rather “easy sell,” according to the words of Broderick Alley of Downtown Nashville Nissan.

Okay.  Let’s explain.

Typical Nissan LEAF buyers are extremely educated and don’t often spend time roving the lots at the local Nissan dealership.  Rather, they come in expecting to buy the LEAF and only check it out to confirm that it meets their needs.

Potential LEAF buyers know exactly what they want...a Nissan LEAF

As Broderick Alley explains, dealers need only convince potential LEAF buyers to purchase what they’ve already considered to be the only vehicle they’d like to own.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, from the dealership perspective, the task is easy, but unfortunately for Nissan, the number of “easy sell” LEAF buyers is extremely limited.

Nissan hopes to broaden the appeal of the LEAF beyond today’s “typical” buyer, but that’s a difficult task.  The automaker has enticed non-conventional LEAF buyers to swing by their local Nissan dealer with attractive lease offers, which was successful in increasing sales, but the fear is that even at a discounted price, Nissan will find it difficult to move the LEAF in mass numbers.

Finally, as Broderick Alley explains, nearly all LEAF drivers lease, rather than buy, the electric hatchback.  Why?  Alley chalks this up to a general lack of confidence in electric vehicles.  So, even two years in, the LEAF is still viewed by most as experimental technology that may or may not stand the test of time.

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14 responses to "How Nissan LEAF Buyers Are Unique"

  1. Brian says:

    I leased mine. Why? Because the technology is changing so fast that 3 years from now, I’ll likely be able to get in a car with more range and more reliable battery. And if not, I will buy out the lease.

    1. Josh says:

      Same exact reasoning for me. Put the risk of the tech and resale value on Nissan.

  2. vdiv says:

    I bought my Volt for a couple of related reasons:
    — the fate of the previous EV GM only leased out and then unceremoniously collected and destroyed
    — promoting the market for EVs

  3. Nelson says:

    Here’s an idea for Nissan to get more people to buy the Leaf. Ask the buyer where they work and promise to install a level 2 charging station that cost .50 cents per hour to use if one does not currently exist. This would allow people who work 50 to 60 miles away from home to use the car as a daily commuter car and open the market to apartment dwellers.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  4. Dave R says:

    Interesting that they’re saying that nearly all LEAF owners lease rather than buy – that must be a recent phenomenon with Nissan’s very aggressive lease rates because I recall that the first year of sales resulted in significantly higher sales compared to leases than they expected.

    Of course, now that everyone knows that Nissan’s batteries are degrading much more quickly than expected in any climate warmer than the Bay Area, it is only smart to lease instead of buy the LEAF but I have to wonder what the flood of used LEAFs hitting the market in 2-3 years is going to do to the resale value.

    If people who bought take it in the shorts when looking to trade-up down the road, that won’t bode well for future sales.

    The next 3-5 years will be very interesting for the EV market.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It would be interesting to see the breakdown by brand on the lease rates. One of the California surveys of plug-ins (BEV and PHEV) found it was north of 80% on leases, but didn’t break it down by brand.

      The federal credit is really messing with the buy/lease split, as the current (non-luxury vehicle) ratio of finance to lease is a little less than 4:1. A $7,500 credit translates to about $14,000 of the MSRP when calculating lease costs.

      Its really letting people with no business being able to afford (or justify) a car of that value get into one…which I suppose was the plan.

      1. Brian says:

        “A $7,500 credit translates to about $14,000 of the MSRP when calculating lease costs.”

        Could you explain this a little? Is it because the residual is based on a percentage of the MSRP, not the (MSRP – credit)?

  5. GeorgeS says:

    They are definitely unique.

    Jay Cole is a perfect example!!

    (and it’s meant as a positive comment…..I know it’s hard to tell sometimes)

    go statik

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I think I’m on the outs again after that Tesla piece, (=

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Negative.
        You and your site just get better!

      2. Bill Howland says:

        What was the complaint on the Tesla Jay? We’re all friends here…. I’ve never heard you say anything totally off the wall to date anyway. And I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt Tesla to get some Constructive Criticism.

  6. shaun says:

    Nissan made a huge commitment to EV’s, so i felt it only right to make a commitment to BUY one! Love it, and i’ll drive it until it’s worn out.

  7. Grumpy says:

    I have to admit that an EV is the first car I would ever consider leasing. I hate the perpetual payments involved with leasing, so I buy and hold a car for about 10 years. However, I think the technology for EVs will advance rapidly and battery capacity will increase to make these cars more practical.

  8. Dave K. says:

    I bought mine, same reasons as vdiv.
    Also I expect a better battery will be available at some point, if Nissan doesn’t offer one someone else will. Honestly though, I have not seen any loss of capacity in over a year, and even if the range dropped to 60% of what it is now it would still meet my needs, I can charge at work and more chargers pop up around Atlanta all the time.
    Don’t see how I can lose…