Nissan Admits Leaf Sales Short of Goal, Offering Steeper Discounts

5 years ago by Lyle Dennis 13

For years many of us have watched with impatience and enthusiasm for electric cars to make their way into the mainstream and into garages across America.

Aside from a few hundred Tesla Roadsters paving the way, 2011 marked a turning point. The Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf launched.

To this day, sales of both cars have fallen considerable short of goals. GM originally had hoped for 60,000 Volt sales in 2012, so far around 14,000 have been sold. Respectable but not what as hoped for.

The pure electric Leaf however, with its 70 or so real world mile electric range, started out strong but has all but fizzled out. Nissan had hoped to move 20,000 units in fiscal 2012 (which for them ends March 31st, 2013). As of now, only 4228 units have sold, down about a third from last year.

“The sales overall have not met our expectations, but we’re working hard to keep pushing,” said Nissan spokesperson David Reuter.

There is a large backlog of Leaf inventory as well, about 114 days worth of 2012 models sit in lots unsold.

As such, earlier this month the automaker began offering steep discounts. The lease price has been reduced from $249 to $219 per month for 32 months with $2999 down. Discounts have been raised from $850 per vehicle in January to $3250 by the end of August.

Nissan says part of the sales slog is because cars were distributed  across the nation rather than in concentrated areas like California where sales are most brisk.

The US built 2013 model will being shipping next year.

Unfortunately even at low prices, the appetite for electric cars isn’t what was initially hoped. Stable oil prices, expensive premiums on electric cars, and difficulty accepting limited ranges and trusting battery technology are holding back demand.

It will be a long road to roads filled with EVs.

Source (Detroit Free Press)

13 responses to "Nissan Admits Leaf Sales Short of Goal, Offering Steeper Discounts"

  1. Anton Wahlman says:

    The Volt target of 60,000 was a global sales goal. The 14,000 to date is a US-only number. I don’t know how many have been sold globally, but the US sales target was 45,000. It looks like they will end up at 20,000, so I think that’s the relevant comparison for the full year.

  2. Mark H says:

    (Detroit Free Press)
    “Nissan joins General Motors, maker of the extended-range Chevrolet Volt, in offering cheap leases and big discounts on electric cars. The Volt is the Leaf’s main competitor and Chevrolet is discounting the $40,000 car by up to $10,000”

    $10,000 discount? Really? Please direct me to the dealer. That has to include the $7500 tax credit, but you would not get that from the sentence. The article is a little more than disingenuous to me. If the sentence was true, then you could own a Volt for $22,500 after the tax credit. Wait, I’ll take TEN!

    Look for 20,000 Volts per year for the next few years, combined with the bulk orders from the additional EREVs for the first decade. Combine that with the total 20-30 global EVs entering the market in 2013- 2014 and we still will not see substantial sales until 2018-2020. It gets here when it gets here.

    The main take away from “negative speculation” articles like this one found in the Detroit Free Press is that someone is concerned with the fact that the first 100,000 global EVs did happen earlier this year and the next milestone is a global million. And then on to the next…

  3. James says:

    People buying a Leaf right now are still EV fans, not the general public, and as such, most of those people do a fair bit of research before buying. A quick search on the Leaf reveals a lot of hits regarding the degradation problem in hotter climates. I would imagine it’s cost them several hundred (maybe even thousands) sales so far, and unless they fix the problem, many more. So either they spent a chunk of money now to make things right, or they should ditch the program.

    The more I look at the issue, the more I’m convinced that Chevy had/has it right. Just like the Prius, it’s an evolutionary step to pure EV’s. After a year of Leaf ownership, I can attest to range anxiety being real, and frustrating, especially with loss of range. Until I can afford a Tesla S, I am now out of the market for a pure EV.

    1. vdiv says:

      Driving a Volt with its 40 mile range around town I never use the gas generator. It has shown me that in reality I do not need a PHEV or an EREV, I can get around in a pure EV just fine. A vehicle like the Ford Focus EV, or the Honda Fit EV, or, gasp!, the new Leaf with their 80 mile+ range will be perfectly acceptable as my primary car and will in fact allow me to travel medium distances (150 miles) with a charging stop in between — grab a bite, watch a movie, see a museum, and get back on the road. For longer distances I can always rent a car or use public transportation.

      Did Nissan mishandle this really poorly? Yes, it did. Does it change my outlook and commitment to EVs? Absolutely not.

      1. Stuart22 says:

        I also never use gas when I’m driving locally in my Volt. But in my five weeks of ownership, I have already made four trips exceeding 120 miles each between charge points, and hell if I want to be inconvenienced and waste my time renting a car.

        The Volt is the most brilliant EV concept today given the current state of battery technology. Its success in the marketplace will drive technology forward much faster than had it never been conceived, for pure BEVs like the LEAF have never achieved mass market success once the early adopter pools dry up. Thus there would have little business incentive for advances to take place.

        Pure BEVs are the future, but an EREV like the Volt is the best we can have at present.

  4. MrEnergyCzar says:

    The Leaf wouldn’t have this issue if they had a range extender….

    MrEnergyCzar

    1. SPIKE says:

      If the LEAF was as expensive as the Volt, Nissan could have put a larger battery pack. The Infinty EV coming out in 2014 will have more than one option for the battery range (like the Tesla Model S). Maybe that will be one of the options for the 2013 LEAF!

      1. backstroke says:

        Exactly, and funny how some Volt owners are 95% electric yet happy paying to carry around all that unused metal. Would be cheaper to buy a BEV and get a rental for the odd occasion the ICE kicks in.

        1. Stuart22 says:

          What you call “odd occasion” happens more frequently than you might want to admit for any average car owner.

        2. MrEnergyCzar says:

          Yeah, getting a rental 20 times a year is ridiculous. The Leaf makes a great second car, no question.

          MrEnergyCzar

  5. Mark H says:

    The best solution for those buying two new autos is one EREV and one BEV “if” the miles are driven on both of them. It will take ten years for the public to figure this out and by then the pure BEV will probably have all that you need.

    1. vdiv says:

      And for people like me that has already happened. The EREV Volt has been a great EV with training wheels. I am now “grown up” (quite quickly actually) and ready for a pure EV.

      1. Mark H says:

        I think it is happening quickly for those who have already purchased their first. With less than a year under my belt with an EREV Volt, I find myself looking pretty hard at the Ford Focus.