Nissan LEAF Sales in December Hit Record High of 2,529 – Production Capacity Excuses Lifted For 2014

12 months ago by Jay Cole 25

Like The Chevrolet Volt This Month, The Nissan LEAF Also Turned Three

Like The Chevrolet Volt This Month, The Nissan LEAF Also Turned Three

To say that monthly sales results on the 2013 model year LEAF were consistent would be an understatement, as we could practically pencil in about 2,000 each month all year long…except for the very last one.

And with such a flat monthly results, there could be only one thing to blame – production.  An issue that was partially resolved in December.

This month, Nissan sold 2,529 LEAFs, which represents nearly a 70% improvement over 2012 when 1,489 were sold.

Overall for the year, the huge reduction in base pricing on the LEAF by more than $6,000 — down to a starting MSRP of $28,800, meant improving on 2012′s mark of 9,819 was “in the bag” a long time ago (June to be precise).  For 2013 a total of 22,610 75 mile EVs from Nissan were sold, a number which more than doubles LEAF sales in 2012.

Nissan’s Corporate Communications Specialists, Paige Presley, tells InsideEVs this:

  • Total sales for CY13 were 22,610, more than double the previous year, making 2013 the best calendar year in LEAF’s history.
  • Sales of the 2013 LEAF with 21,601 units exceeds sales of model years 2011 and 2012 combined.
  • Atlanta maintains its spot as the No. 1 market for the fifth straight month, and sales are expanding deeper into Georgia markets such as Macon and Columbus.
  • LEAF is the top-selling Nissan model in Atlanta, Seattle and San Francisco. It’s also in the top three Nissan models in Honolulu and Portland.

Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of EV sales and marketing, stated:

“The 2013 model launched in March accelerated sales and drove 10 straight months of record sales. In 2013 we crossed the 40,000 sales threshold, saw a LEAF driver’s odometer hit the 100,000 mile mark, and now have a new best-ever sales month in December. As we gear up to roll out the 2014 LEAF, we look forward to continued growth in new-wave markets and deeper penetration on the west coast strongholds as the ever-growing LEAF owner base continues to evangelize the product to friends and neighbors.”

Production Capacity Issues Resolved – Finally

Work Faster You Dogs - Nissan Finally Runs The LEAF 3 Shifts A Day In December As More Batteries Become Available

Work Faster You Dogs – Nissan Finally Runs The LEAF 3 Shifts A Day In December As More Batteries Become Available

To say that Nissan was caught flat-footed for demand on the LEAF when the newly priced edition went on sale in March of this year would an understatement.

By May, Nissan decided to ramp up production from about 1,900 units a month to 2,700 at the LEAF’s Smyrna, TN assembly facility - but increasing capacity on a battery electric car with a 24 kWh battery is not like adding a shift to pump out a few more Versas.

In fact it took Nissan so long to increase capacity that it happened just this month on the new 2014 edition of the LEAF…just in time for the holiday shutdown.

So while 2013 was about as suspense-free as possible when it came to forecasting LEAF sales, we will finally see the more violent ups and downs we generally associate with plug-in vehicles will be in 2014 - and finally we can put a number on what the US demand actually is for the best selling plug-in car in the world.

As for the 2014 model year LEAF, a handful (literally) of those actually showed up on local dealer lots before month’s end.  Still no word on pricing, but we expect Nissan to make an 2014 LEAF announcement between now and the start of the NAIAS (Detroit) auto show on January 13th.

In case anyone has forgotten, here is the one bit of press Nissan that did put out earlier this year on the 2014 LEAF - and some slight changes to the model…just disregard that part about it being available in October:

2014 Nissan LEAF Changes

2014 Nissan LEAF Changes

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25 responses to "Nissan LEAF Sales in December Hit Record High of 2,529 – Production Capacity Excuses Lifted For 2014"

  1. David Murray says:

    This is only slightly higher than the 2,420 sold in August. But it is still a record and still good news.

    My 2011 Leaf is nearing the end of its 3 year lease and soon I’ll be faced with the decision of keeping the car or turning it in for something else. I can’t make up my mind. On one hand if I buy out the lease, my car payment will drop significantly since I’m currently paying around $411 a month. (I bought my Leaf back before the lease deals were so sweet.) But on the other hand I could probably lease a brand new Leaf and still get a cheaper car payment, plus I could upgrade to a DC fast charge port and 6.6Kw level-2 charging and get some increased cargo area. But other vehicles are being considered as well, another Volt (we already have one), a BMW i3, or a C-Max Energi.

    1. Big Solar says:

      go for the new one!

      1. Assaf says:

        Yes, by all means do re-lease.

        At this point, I’m afraid that for anyone unwilling/unable to shell out $60k+ for a Model S, the Leaf is still the top BEV game in town. Don’t forget the 2013/14 also has longer and more weather-resistant range!

        Besides the obvious advantages to you, this way you are also enriching the used car market with another Leaf. I’ve heard that Nissan has little trouble finding buyers for their used leaseback Leafs – and the more of them are around, the easier it will be to prove all these idiot auto analysts wrong on EVs once again.

        1. Dan Hue says:

          A used EV should indeed eventually displace one older gas car. I think that makes sense, and I too factor that in my decision, since for me reducing gas consumption and CO2 emissions is one of my goals.

          1. Assaf says:

            Absolutely. And as I made the case elsewhere, getting a 3-year-old Leaf from Nissan for some $10-15k, is a win-win for Nissan and for the buyer.

            Nissan already got at least good ~$15k from the 1st lease and Uncle Sam, so it ends up netting some $25-30k on average – and the buyer will save on gas at least as much as the loss in value of a used car that already went through most of its depreciation.

            1. Ocean Railroader says:

              A used EV that is $8000 dollars could open up the door for someone like me wanting to own one. But oddly I think the used EV prices on Ebay are still at around $15,000 even for the used 2011 ones.

        2. Mint says:

          It is indeed the top BEV, but I really wish they put a more powerful motor in there. The marginal expense would be very low, and it would make the car so much more appealing, IMO.

          1. Benjamin says:

            the volt has more power 270 lbs of Torque

          2. Just_Chris says:

            I think you are totally wrong…… they need to stick a second motor in the back and make an AWD rocket, I know the batteries probably couldn’t take it, perhaps they could put an extra battery pack in and…

        3. Karl says:

          Despite what KBB and Edmunds are predicting, it seems like the used ones are keeping their value. I’ve had my eye on this one, but will likely lease mid-2014. http://goo.gl/FXeEPH

    2. vdiv says:

      If you like your current LEAF you should go with a new one as it is a much improved car. Can you say trunk space, 6.6 kW L2, heat pump, heat and AC off buttons? :)

      The i3 without CCS stations deployed is at a disadvantage, hopefully a temporal one.

      1. Dave R says:

        Just remember that on the LEAF S, you have to get the charge package to get 6.6 kW charging and the heat pump is only available on the SV/SL. And the “high efficiency” Bose sound system eats up some of the space by the onboard charger relocation.

        Still – seems like a no-brainer to simply lease a new one for another 2-3 years. Lower payment, better features and for a cost much less than buying out the current lease.

    3. Al says:

      Think about how you couldn’t make any of those choices,only a few years ago! : )

    4. Brian says:

      I’ll be facing the same decision shortly, and am equally undecided. Nothing compels me toward the new Leaf, and it would be more expensive in the long run to upgrade. In the meantime, I go back and forth, driving my wife crazy in the process!

  2. Assaf says:

    Thanks Jay for the good news and congratulations to Nissan for finally getting the Smyrna act together!

    As you say, in 2014 we might be able to witness the current upper bound for the Leaf’s demand.

    1. sa says:

      It will keep selling around there current rates it has for most of this year. Next 2 months will be lower than this month, probably closer 2000. That is just because winter is not a good time to sell a car, other than the people who just bought one at the end of last month for tax reasons. The rest of the year probably average 2500 a month. Count on it. That will still work out to a net increase, but be realistic if they could make 40,000+ cars they could not sell them without big losses. There has been excess inventory, discounts off MSRP, and cheap lease deals for more than half of a year.

      1. DanCar says:

        I suspect people are waiting for the 2014′s to arrive which also effects sales.

        1. sa says:

          Of course, but that is the case for every car, every year! However, it is less the case when there are not significant changes in the car coming in the following model year. Since the 2014 doesn’t have significant advantages (improved styling, better range) this would be no more of a factor than any other year.

          1. Assaf says:

            @sa, you are wrong about Leaf’s inventory this year.

            Ever since March when the 2013 was launched, the inventory has never exceeded ~1 month’s worth, which for a car that sells nationwide means there were quite a few local shortages. I’ve heard various testimonies around here (Seattle area) that dealers don’t get enough to support the demand, or are held back by national HQ from promoting the Leaf even more aggressively.

            The pricing decision (including how far to go with lease) was a national one, and taken right at launch. Beyond possibly an occasional local sales push, there has been no need for further major price cuts AFAIK.

            As Jay points out (and as I have pointed out numerous times in the past…) you simply cannot produce such a steady sales rate over 9 months straight, unless supply is tightly managed/constrained.

            I agree that Jan-Feb 2014 might be relatively weak. But in March-Nov 2013, demand for the Leaf has exceeded supply.

            1. Assaf says:

              Also, much of the Leaf’s inventory has been at the higher-end trims. Demand was strongest at the S and S+charge trims, which very often sold out.

              1. sa says:

                I’ve been following this too, and I don’t think it has been as contained as you think. However, I put myself out there and gave some predictions on the numbers for next year. If you total mine up they give you 29,000.

                What is your prediction?

                Whoever is closest, without going over wins:)

              2. Nate says:

                Source?

                There are 170 Leafs in the Seattle area now, of which 103 are S trim. This number is similar now to what it was a couple months ago, I remember checking and posting in reply to a discussion regarding inventory in November.

                There were plenty of Leafs to choose from when I shopped this summer. If I would have gotten a Leaf I would have gotten an S w/ charge pkg. There were plenty in stock. Portland dealers have been advertising discounted lease deals on this configuration for months.

  3. Beyond the 22,610 LEAFs sold in 2013 exceeding combined 2011+2012 sales; the number of LEAFs built in U.S. in 2013 was even more impressive. With sales of 1303 in Jan+Feb (650+653) were mostly from Japan, beginning March we have seen U.S. production numbers increase. Add the current MY 2013 inventory and U.S. built MY 2013′s is 24,000+. Not a bad first year of production!

    At an average of 2500 sales per month the U.S. MY 2014 sales will be above 30,000. If LEAF sales continue to increase in 2014; we could see the 75,000th LEAF sold by 2015. (U.S. 2014 production will include LEAFs for Canada and possibly Mexico later in the year?)

    Helping the growth of LEAFs has been Nissan’s installation of Fast DC chargers in 2013. Atlanta metro area is a great example; having no DCFC in 2012, now has 10 DCFC. Even places like St. Louis now have 5 DCFC (all Nissan dealer locations). Hope Nissan continues to accelerate DCFC rollout in 2014 ensuring reliable 24/7 hour access as much as possible.

  4. Ocean Railroader says:

    As for the Nissan Leaf considering it takes them a million years to get production up over the next six to eight months to add another 800 over the existing 1900 they should start looking at raising leaf production to 3000 to 3200 by May or April. In that it sounds like the Leaf is like a steam locomotive gaining momentum in that it’s right now taking a little time for people to warm up to it and understand it. But once they do understand it and start liking it like with what is going on they will want more of them. Most likely now the Leaf is taking away sales form the gas powered Nissan Versa.

  5. Bonaire says:

    They need to find a way to make another model as a EV. Something like a Altima. I have to believe so many more people choose not to buy the Leaf due to how it looks. Car buyers do have a lot riding on how it looks. Since you are losing how a car “sounds” with EVs, looks are even more important.