How Long Will Nissan LEAF Retain U.S.’ Best-Selling Plug-In Electric Car Title?


LEAFs Charging

LEAFs Charging

At the end of November, the Nissan LEAF trailed the Chevrolet Volt in cumulative sales in the U.S. by less than 3,000 units (2,647 to be exact).

The LEAF, with monthly sales averaging ~2,800, will surpass the Volt in cumulative U.S. sales soon.  Volt sales are averaging ~ 1,400 per month over the last few months, so the overtaking seems inevitable.

The overtaking will likely occur early in 2015, but we wonder how long can the Nissan LEAF retain the title of U.S’ #1 selling plug-in electric car after it gains the top spot.

With the next-generation Chevrolet Volt set to debut in January and go on sale in mid- to late-2015, it seems the LEAF may only be on top for a short time.

However, if General Motors’ continues its trend of not marketing the Volt, then maybe the next-gen version won’t result in a dramatic sales increase.  If that’s the case, then the LEAF may jump into the #1 spot and never be bounced off its pedestal.

Are question to you is, how long do you expect the LEAF to be the U.S. cumulative sales leader after grabbing the top spot?

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Category: ChevroletNissanSales,

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42 responses to "How Long Will Nissan LEAF Retain U.S.’ Best-Selling Plug-In Electric Car Title?"
  1. Rudy Clarke says:

    If GM doesn’t produce the promised 50-5-50; 50 miles AER, with seating for 5 and 50 mpg, forget it!!

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

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    2. Miggy says:

      What about the “CrossVolt” it may work for GM. Still outside the USA the Volt is about twice the price of the Leaf. View the crossvolt here:

    3. Dan Hue says:

      There never was such a promise. Expectations are that it will be more like 50(+)-5-40(+).

    4. Spec9 says:

      Price is more important than all 3 of those.

      They also need more models. SUV, a mini van, etc.

      1. Dan says:

        Absolutely correct.

        What is more important than 5-5-5 is the first number of the Volt’s MSRP. If it’s not a 2, there will be problems.

  2. PHEV sales are somewhat influenced by gas pump pricing while BEV sales have less of a correlation.

    Other factors like new models effect sales depending on value of features offered, but lower pricing on an existing model could boost sales more than new features.

    Beyond the Volt and LEAF, the i3 offers the best of both with 75 mile BEV range and extended gas range of 150+ miles … but at almost 2x the price. The VW eGolf and Kia Soul EV also add competition, to a degree, depending on volume available in the local market.

    It’s no-longer just about LEAF vs. Volt … the EV market is starting to mature as more options become available. What will be first PEV model to sell 50,000 per year (in US)? What year?

    1. David says:

      The Leaf has no competition outside of compliance cars. It’s the only BEV sold in 50 states other than the more expensive i3 and model S.

      This article seems intent to pit Volt against Leaf. In that light, GM needs a more mainstream car and to look more credible WRT BEVs.

  3. Mikael says:

    5 years.

  4. evnow says:

    This would be a significant milestone.

    I’d also be interested in seeing how many Leaf owners switch to Volt and the other way with the next gen plugins.

    1. mike w says:

      I have a 3 year old Leaf and we are down to 78% battery capacity so you can count me in as one of the people switching from Leaf TO Volt.

      1. evnow says:

        Yes, people with less than optimal experience will switch. Ironically for Leaf 2 the new battery might be much better – and if the range doubles, the degradation may not matter much.

        I expect Volt owners who have figured out that they hardly used any gas with Volt will switch to Leaf 2.

        1. liberty says:

          I think they only switch to leaf 2, if they never take long trips or need a 5th seat. They may wait for tesla model III, or like the new gen 2 volt or new sonic or whatever based longer range chevy bev.

        2. mike w says:

          Or the new Leaf battery will be the same under-designed non cooled POS as the current one but with more capacity. Nissan is not saying much at this point. A capacity loss warranty that goes to 100,000 miles like the i3 has is also needed.

        3. ModernMarvelFan says:

          I don’t know any existing Volt owners who remotely thinks about switching to LEAF. Yes, there are few who thinks about switching to other BEVs, but LEAF never comes up as alternatives. They usually don’t b/c of performance, safety and battery degradation.

      2. Marc says:

        I have a nearly 4 year old Leaf and have 100% capacity. I have not lost a single bar. You just need to take care of it and use the battery as directed. The abuse of the battery is your fault not Nissan’s.

  5. liberty says:

    My guess is the retooled gen II volt will pass the leaf by mid 2016.

    After that we can stop counting cumulative and count best selling plug-in for the year ;0) So
    2014 leaf
    2015 leaf
    2016 volt
    2017 volt
    2018 tesla model 3

    2019 is too far out to tell.

    That is my prediction anyway

    1. Mikael says:

      It’s cummulative sales, not yearly sales. So the Model 3 needs be on sale for a few years before it can catch up to the head start of the Leaf (or Volt).

    2. Boyd says:

      not sure how much I agree. I still think the outlander PHEV or a crossvolt would outsell the leaf and volt (maybe any crossover or a 3 row plug-in). still too early to tell.

  6. Just_chris says:

    IMO nissan own the low cost bev segment, they’ve done the hard yards and paid off quite a bit of the initial investment or written it off. If anyone enters their patch in a serious way be it tesla, BMW or Mitsubishi nissan has a lot of options; drop the price, introduce more body shapes or increase the range. 5 years will be the minimum time before nissan loose the bev crown. Phev is a different story but I’d be more worried about the slew of German competition and the outlander phev than the gen 2 volt. It’ll be a great car but will GM make more than 30-50 k a year? probably not.

    1. John F says:

      Nissan does have a lot of options as you say, but Nissan is a hard company to understand. Now they say it is time to push their EV sales, but they have also said they want to keep their prices high for improved profits. Nissan seems to have its own long range plan, and that plan is very cautious. I don’t see them caring about beating the Volt on any metric. If Nissan cared, they could beat the Volt both in overall sales, and in most sales in one month. I think the Leaf is a much simpler car to build than the Volt, and it should be much cheaper to produce. They could lower the price, and ensure they would keep the overall sales title if they wished, but they won’t. GM will care about selling lots of the new Volt 2. So, Nissan’s Leaf will hold the lead for a few months, then the Volt will retake the lead. Nissan will not have a chance to reclaim the lead until they release the Leaf 2.0

      1. suresh says:

        they already beat volt in sales and are 10k cheaper. not sure where you gets your figures from.

        1. John F says:

          Overall sales is the same as the cumulative sales discussed in the article. If you look at the sales scorecard and add up the sales from 2010 thru 2014, you find 71867 for the Volt compared to only 69220 for the Leaf. The difference is the 2647 more Volt sales stated in the first line of this article.

          As for the most sales in any month, again from the scorecard and looking for the most sold in any one month, there were 3351 Volts sold in August 2013, but only 3186 Leafs sold in August 2014.

          That is how I get Volt beating Leaf on both these metrics. I never said the Volt was cheaper than the Leaf — its just cheaper to produce due to its simplicity. I also stated the Leaf price could be lowered, and if it was lowered, the sales would increase.

          Where do you get your numbers from?

  7. Brian says:

    The volt will pass the leaf again by the end of 2015. If it doesn’t shame on GM!

    The interesting thing is that the Leaf hasn’t actually surpassed the volt yet. It probably will soon, but that is not a given.

  8. Victor says:

    I think 2015 will be the only year Nissan Leaf or any BEV will hold that title. It will not happen again until about 2030. Once the mass public in America starts using plugin vehicles they will want a vehicle with more versatility and flexibility than an all-electric vehicle can offer. I think the Chevy Volt will be the best selling plug-in vehicle in America for 2016, 2017 and possibly 2018.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      The problem is that Chevy Volt sales are depended on federal tax credits, where as Tesla Model 3 sales are not. When federal tax credits will expire, then it is a game over for Volt.

      1. Dan Hue says:

        They’ll change the rules, as they should. That 200,000 car rule is stupid and unfairly disadvantages the risk takers, which include Tesla BTW.

      2. Sivad says:

        Not if they get the price down to around $30,000. If the Model 3 can hold at $35,000 then that extra 5k may not matter. But if the Model 3 ends up in i3 territory cost-wise and the Volt ends up at $30k then they will both be selling to different customers and not directly competing.

      3. Dan says:

        The Model 3 will be so much more expensive than the Volt (and Leaf) that tax credits will not be a factor in purchase.

        Model 3 will be stealing sales from 3 Series and C-Class, not Volt/Leaf/Prius.

  9. jstack6 says:

    The new KIA SOUL EV could change the title, so can the BMW i3 or Tesla as they keep ramping up.

    READ- KIA The base-level Soul EV comes standard with navigation, rear camera, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, and a 6.6-kW on-board charger. Every Soul EV also comes with an infotainment package that provides real-time battery-level status, distance to empty, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations.

    The Soul EV Plus, which brings the price to $36,500, adds leather trimmed seats—heated in front and back—projection-style fog lamps and power-folding outside mirrors.

    Leasing has proven a popular option among EV drivers. The expected introductory lease price for a Soul EV is $249 per month for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing. Kia said that the actual (rather than expected) terms of the lease will be announced when the vehicle is launched in the fall.

    1. QCO says:

      No chance for the Kia Soul. It’s a supply constrained learning exercise, not a volume production effort.

      1. Sivad says:

        It’s also quite low on the performance end even compared to the Leaf and Volt.

  10. kdawg says:

    I think the Leaf will stay ahead of the Volt for some time (once it passes it), if BEVs continue to receive more tax credits than PHEVs.

    1. david_cary says:

      Kdawg – Some clarity is needed. You must be talking state credits? Maybe I’m confused since I only have federal and they are the same.

      1. kdawg says:

        Yes, the State credits. There’s a reason Atlanta is now the #1 city for the Leaf.

        1. Sivad says:

          The Leaf sells 1000 a month or around 12,000 a year in Atlanta alone. If the state kills the credit this year like many are speculating then it is quite possible the Leaf numbers might drop by 6,000 due to sales loses in Georgia right about when the 2016 Volt goes on sale.

          1. kdawg says:

            So instead…. they should extend the credits to PHEVs. Politics…

  11. Leonard says:

    Look out for insurance costs. Chev Volt is 2-3x the cost of a Leaf! Owners remember those hard lessons.

  12. Gadge says:

    As I recall, LEAF 2.0 with increased range and a re-design is due for model year 2017. That should retain its spot as the world’s #1 selling EV!

  13. ModernMarvelFan says:

    It is all about Various State incentives that LEAF enjoys over the Volt.

    It is NOT a battle between cars like some of the hardcore fans here like to think. It is more a battle of incentives. If GA incentives goes away, then Volt will retain its champ, but if the CA HOV sticker goes away for the Volt, it will be a toss up.

    LEAF and Volt will both tank if all the state incentives are taken away…

  14. pjkPA says:

    Add $40,000 to the cost of the Leaf like the Japanese do to the Volt in Japan and see how long the LEAF is sold in the US!
    The Volt costs $80,000 in Japan!
    While we give them $7500 to dump the leaf in the US!

    1. Mark C says:

      I doubt that GM has an assembly plant, motor plant or battery plant in Japan. While I’m sure there is plenty of Nissan content imported for the Leaf, they built facilities in Tennessee to build the Leaf. A substantial number of middle class jobs exist for the Leaf right here in the US of A.