Does The Sales Rebirth Of The Nissan LEAF In Japan Forecast Big Things For The US?

MAR 13 2013 BY JAY COLE 9

For the most part, the reception of the Nissan LEAF was lukewarm at best in the United States.  Past the initial “early adopters”, keen on being the first to be able to purchase an all electric car, new car buyers simply did not want to shell out the premium cost for the priviledge of cutting the gas station out of their lives.

Sydney, Australia Recently Received A Fleet Of Outgoing 2012 LEAFs

Sydney, Australia Recently Received A Fleet Of Outgoing 2012 LEAFs (we assume they got some kind of MY-end discount as well)

The outgoing 2012 LEAF SV, started at $35,020; which was a good $10,000 higher than a comparable gas car.

Sales for the first 8 months of 2012 (before Nissan starting discounting old inventory by anywhere from $5,500 nationally to $9,775 regionally), averaged just 528 LEAFs sold per month.  In other words, hideous failure.

US consumers could see the advantage of an electric car, but the range limitations, coupled with an extended pay-back period of 6 or 7 years, was just a leap too far to make for many.

Enter the 2013 Nissan LEAF S Model.

Both US-made and sourced, the entry level price (along with some features) was slashed to $28,800, and also available for lease from $199.   This new pricing, dropped the 2013 Nissan LEAF pay-back period to about 3 years over it’s Nissan gas counterpart, the Versa (comparison here).

And although it is still to soon to judge the public’s reception of the 2013 LEAF with less than a full month’s worth of sales on the books, we can tell you that Nissan sold over 450 of the 2013 model in the last half of February, a remarkable feat considering hardly any inventory had even left their Smyrna, TN assembly facility to be sold during the month.

Then there is Japan.

In Japan, the LEAF has similarly been cut in price, down to 2.213 million yen after various subsidies (about $25,000USD), and where it has also just completed it first month of being available nationwide.

How well did the new LEAF sell?  Nissan posted their 2nd best result of all-time of the EV, with 1,455 2013 LEAFs sold, a number that has only been surpassed once before…and that was during the vehicle’s first full month of availability in Japan in February of 2011.

So, will the Nissan LEAF’s resurgence in Japan translate to bigger and better results in the US?  We think without a doubt it will.   However, only time will tell if the days of strong electric vehicle sales are here to stay

Categories: Nissan


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9 Comments on "Does The Sales Rebirth Of The Nissan LEAF In Japan Forecast Big Things For The US?"

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The other factor is word of mouth, there has been enough time for people to see the early adopter cars and find out about how they work. Talking to your neighbor carries a lot more weight than an advertising campaign, I can tell you that a lot of people I know are now seriously considering it for the first time.

I don’t see much of a change in sales for the Leaf for 2013.

The cheaper S model is missing what makes the 75 EV mile range palatable, and that’s the faster 6.6 charger. Upgrading at $1,300 puts the lease at the SV $249/mo. But you still get no navigation or ‘carwings’ to remotely check car charging status, etc. So we are back at $31,820. But still cheaper than the 2012 SV.

Meanwhile, Ford seems focused on building and maintaining inventory of plug-in hybrid vehicles. The C-Max Energi with 662 in inventory as of today, Fusion Energi at 242(still filling backorders), with Focus Electric at 484.

Nissan is doing well with 1,065 in inventory, up from 683 at beginning of March.

Toyota, offering the Prius plug-in at discounts below the Prius Liftback, has a whopping 1,270 in inventory. But they also had 1,197 in inventory last month and only sold 693.

Isn’t this the Billion dollar question … ?

While the sales number in Japan is encouraging, we won’t know if that is just another spike or the new norm for a few months. I do expect similar larger numbers in US in the next 2 months at least.

One big difference is the availability of Level 3 charging in Japan vs the complete absence in the US outside California and Tennessee.

Actually, you’d be surprised to know that Washington, Oregon, Texas all have substantial CHAdeMO installations and are actually far ahead of California in terms of QC infrastructure until the past few months where it seems that finally more QC stations are coming online in California.

After all, you can drive from Canada to California along I5, but once you get to California you are stuck unless you happen to be in the Bay Area which has a barely useful number of QC stations (except for along HWY101 between Palo Alto / Sunnyvale).

Southern California has a handful, but still far from enough.

Stopped by local Nissan dealer late Saturday as last LEAF SV was driving off lot; only 6 S’es remained. Rep said they had a balanced mix of SL’s, SV’s & S’es and were willing to place an order. They did note that the Blue color would be delayed (no reason given), but all other colors are available.

I don’t think my Nissan dealer has any Leafs on the lot, last time I checked. So I think there is still a shortage in some areas.

I’m hopeful to see sales increase by 50% to 100% this year in the USA. We have a cheaper Leaf, plus I’ve been seeing some advertising on TV so the public will be more aware of the vehicle. If they would advertise those lease rates a bit more, I think it would help even more.

There are 73 Leafs near me – but the biggest Leaf dealer has only 3 ! This is the dealer that sold nearly a 100, in Nov/Dec.

I also see a lot of new people on MNL. I expect sales numbers to hit 2,000 a month soon.

Where did you got Japanese car sale numbers from?