Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn: LEAF Will Sell 36,000 Copies This Year – 50,000 Thereafter

JAN 9 2014 BY JAY COLE 37

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn Sees The LEAF Selling 3,000 Units A Month In 2013; 4000 In The Future

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn Sees The LEAF Selling 3,000 Units A Month In 2014; 4000 In The Future

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has made some predictions in the past about sales of the Nissan LEAF that didn’t work out so well.

However, this time with the Nissan LEAF priced to what the market wants (as opposed to the value of the yen to the US dollar), and sales ramping higher every month, he can be a lot more confident in his words.

Carlos Ghosn introducing The Nissan BladeGlider at Tokyo Motor Show

Carlos Ghosn introducing The Nissan BladeGlider at Tokyo Motor Show

On Wednesday, Nissan released all the details and specs on the 2014 model year LEAF (that story here), and Mr. Ghosn took the opportunity to boast that new production had come online at the 84 mile EV’s Smyrna, TN assembly facility during an interview with CNBC.

“We are now on a trend of 3,000 cars a month in the U.S., which is about 36,000 cars (per year). The next step is moving up to 4,000 a month which is going to be approximately 50,000”

It should be noted that the new higher production level of the LEAF just came online last month, and the electric Nissan has yet to eclipse 3,000 units sold in any one month.

Last month, the LEAF set a monthly all-time high for any all-electric vehicle sold in the US at 2,529 unit (that story here).  For full year 2013 the company sold 22,610.

Unlike his prediction of selling 20,000 LEAFs in fiscal year 2012 (the company actually sold 11,625), the Nissan CEO did not set a specific timeframe on when the company would achieve that higher level of 4,000 units sold in a month.  It is thought this level would be achieved when the more significant changes in both range and price arrive around the 2nd generation of the LEAF, as early as late 2015.

So, what would it take to sell 4,000 LEAFs in a month? 

We imagine a price under $25,000 for the current model, or a range of over 125 miles for the 2nd generation LEAF at today’s SV trim level pricing – $32,000.

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37 Comments on "Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn: LEAF Will Sell 36,000 Copies This Year – 50,000 Thereafter"

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Lets hope so, though I don’t expect to see large sales from anyone in the traditionally slow months of January/February. If that is the case, then you have to have some of those 4000 months to catch up. Under 10K in 2012, 22K in 2013. I would consider it huge if Nissan can break 30K this year. I do think it is going to be a big year for Nissan and Ford. Keep those EVs rolling!

I can optimistically say this 36,000 is now possible for 2014. but I can also say it is possible it will be much lower. Time will tell.

As pointed out, Mr. Ghosn is consistently optimistic. I would love for them to sell 36,000 this year, but quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. Then again, is he counting the fiscal year running from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015? If so, 36,000 is highly probably.

And where does this rumor of a 2nd generation in 2015 come from? If Nissan treats the Leaf like any other car in their lineup (which eventually we all hope for), wouldn’t each generation be run for 5-6 years? Since the Leaf really started selling in 2011, that would put the 2nd generation out at 2016 or 2017. I find it hard to believe that Nissan would be pushing particularly hard for the next generation when 1) they have no true nationwide competition and 2) they are still production limited. If they can sell every car they can make, why not milk the current design rather than spend the capital to refresh?

I think Nissan themselves said a few months back, that they will have different battery-pack sizes by 2015 or something like that.

It is hard to peg down (given the way things get translated out of Japan) if Nissan plans to make the full model change in ‘six years’ from the debut, which they seem to count year 1 as 2010, or 6 ‘model years’

So we have it showing up in either late 2015 or August-ish of 2016. As always plans can certainly change.

We do have a quote from Nissan USA that 2nd gen batteries will be showing up before the 2nd gen LEAF shows up. So that means either was the 120+ mile LEAF option will be here either in fall of 2014 or 2015 depending on how you look at things.

It does strike me as odd that they would opt to put the ‘good range’ in the last of the old style, seems like a missed opportunity to bring out the next gen with a bang…yet Andy Palmer himself has stated this is what is going to happen. Again – plans changes.

(Speaking only for myself, all I am really interested in seeing is getting the “common man’s” pure EV range up from the 65-80 mile rut we seem to be in with all the OEM’s current offerings)

Thanks Jay for the info and insight!

A few things in support of rolling out larger batteries before 2nd gen (armchair-Qbacking Nissan here, of course):

– Sales-wise 2013 has been a golden year for the Leaf in the US as the only broadly available, viable and affordable BEV. But in 2014 they are already squeezed by the BMW i3, VW, Mercedes (those two maybe more in Europe), Smart, even the MiEV might come back to bite them a bit – and some BEV drivers might decide to give up waiting and find the $$ for a new or used Model S. Plus people (like us?) might hold off on BEVs for a while and go PHEV/EREV as a single vehicle that meets all their needs. So some range rabbit out of the hat can help re-establish the Leaf’s market-leading position.

– Engineering-wise, based on the 2011-2 Leaf experience, the range disappointment (remember “100 miles?”), the “Wilting Phoenix Leafs” etc., Nissan took a while to recover from that. It’s perhaps better to test-run larger batteries, what they can and cannot do and where they need tweaking, on the late 1st-gen rather than together with all the teething problems of 2nd-gen.

“It does strike me as odd that they would opt to put the ‘good range’ in the last of the old style, seems like a missed opportunity to bring out the next gen with a bang…yet Andy Palmer himself has stated this is what is going to happen.” There’s actually a great reason for this – there’s going to be a ton of LEAFs on the road with 20-30% loss of capacity in the next 2-3 years – A LOT of LEAFs sold in Southern California, Georgia – not to mention hotter places. A lot of them will be lease returns – but there will also be a good number of early adopters – many of which who were very enthusiastic about the LEAF the first year or so, but that quickly faded along with the battery capacity as capacity is being lost for most people at a rate much higher than Nissan said to expect (20% in 5 years, 30% in 5-8 years officially, but Mark Perry was on record saying most people would have 20-30% after 8 years before he “moved on”). Being able to make the first gen LEAFs more than whole will make early adopters happy.… Read more »

Just keep in mind the fact that Nissan postponed the launch of the Infiniti BEV by a year to take advantage of improvements only they know they have coming. That says enough for me to know I’ll have great options available when my 2013 LEAF’s 36 mo. lease matures. The next five years are going to see some great things happen for us fans of BEVs.

The much rumored ‘affordable’ Tesla is due 2015, probably later rather than sooner. I think Nissan would be willing to refresh the model a little early in order to match the competition. It’s new technology so should be on a faster refresh cycle anywho. The 2013 has significant improvements for a mid-cycle refresh after just 2 years.

I think one improvement they need aside from battery pack options, is to reduce the drag significantly. That will enable them greater range for minimal costs, limiting the number of extra batteries to get to say 125 EPA miles..

Last I read they were aiming to increase production to around 2700/mo which obviously can’t sustain sales of 3,000/mo. Did something change?

While more range will help sales of the next gen Leaf, what is really needed to support higher sales are more DC Fast Chargers. A dense network of reliable CHAdeMo chargers enable much much greater usage of bothe existing Leafs, and newer ones (and Tesla’s with CHAdeMo adapters).



While fast chargers are essential for affordable BEVs, especially those whose performance degrades over time, a road-trip of over 150-200 miles becomes mainstream-feasible only with ranges longer than today’s Leaf, which requires you to stop for a half-hour after 70-80 miles and thereafter every 50-60 miles, and drive under 60mph in between.

Taking 5-6 hours to do 200 miles of plain boring highway, will not cut it with most households. Adding some 30-40 miles to that range will do wonders in that respect.

What we really really really need to go along with those 3000 LEAFs a month is more than 5 greater than 20kW chargers installed per month, spread fairly evenly.

An almost totally stand-pat year for the LEAF, feature-wise and price-wise. At least production is ramping, which is good. Maybe next year they can do another price drop, and in ’16 they can give us the next generation. I vote for a longer range battery option, and the 80 mile version could keep dropping in price.

I think Nissan missed a chance to drop a $k or 2 on the price and add gasoline to the fire, so to speak. They should have seen if they could have delivered any sort of small incremental drop, as they had promised a drop, and as it adds to the idea that EVs are getting more affordable and better every year. I think maybe the seeds of the “EV’s lose resale value” articles were planted by those acting in bad faith, and you have to be very careful not to take bad faith actors as if they are criticizing in earnest and not second guess your long term strategy because of them.

“EV’s lose resale value” is lopsided article that does not take tax credit into account.
rather than reducing price in by 2k, they can go on bigger battery, right now nissan is only limited by production not , limited range, 100 real time miles will make more sence than cheaper version.
2013 Leaf SL
65/day single charge.

Leaf is pricing is already in good pricing spot. It is not highway car(more than 150 miles) even with 30kw battery period, having said that except for families with single car a 90-120 real time miles is all it needs, to go aggressive on sales numbers. just release with high battery capacity at same price range. they will hit a gold mine. One new looks wont hurt either.

2013 Leaf SL
65/day single charge.

I wonder if Nissan will ever add a liquid cooling/heating to the battery pack? I want to buy a BEV, and not lease it, so the battery pack needs to last. Maybe the 2nd gen batteries will be more tolerant to extreme temps.

Of course fast chargers are very important. That said, let’s just consider that portion of the driving population who doesn’t have to wait for them to be all over to enjoy a 70-80 miles EV without inconveniences or range anxiety: they are those who, besides 1) having the possibility to plug-in at home, 2-a) never drive more than the EV range (they’re quite rare, I guess), or 2-b) very rarely go on long trips (they can rent a car for those) or 2-c) have (at least) another car in the household. I would estimate that those who can plug-in at home are about 40% of drivers (in US and in most “developed” countries). And if we estimate that 50% of households have at least 2 cars, it turns out that about one third of all cars are just used for short trips because they sit next to another one (also this other one sits next to another car, but we don’t count them also LOL). Maybe it’s a little less than 50%, but then there are households with 3 cars, 2 of which could be pure EVs. So, about one third of all cars fulfill the condition at point 2-c.… Read more »

The eUp! was second for the whole 2013.


A statistical comment: your 13% figure assumes independence between multiple-car households and plug-in access. This quite likely a wrong assumption, b/c multiple-car households are more likely to live in detached houses and/or have designated parking spots. So the figure is probably more like 25% or so.

OTOH, 2 marketing comments:

first, people replace their cars only once every X years, with X generally larger nowadays than it was in the 1960s-1990s.

Second: people bring a *lot* of their personal tastes and distastes to car-buying decision. Assuming that all of them can be convinced to buy a single automaker’s car that has a rather unusual look, is again false. That’s why true nationwide BEV competition can do wonders to sales. As we are beginning to witness (I hope) in Europe.

Hi, Assaf.
I’m very happy to take the 25% figure you suggest!

I don’t understand your comment on people replacing their cars more “rarely”, so to speak, since I was considering the monthly market. Whatever numbers of cars are purchased, 25% of them could be short range pure EVs. I was not speaking of percentage of EVs on population. Maybe you follow some other logic?

I certainly agree about the importance of having the widest possible range of options! I would stretch the importance of having best selling cars among the first options, rather than other less popular, or EV only, vehicles. (I know there are also good reasons to like EV only cars like the Leaf, Zoe, i3…). For the Leaf, even 12,500 cars a month (150,000 a year) would “only” be about 8% of the theoretical 150,000 a month that could be pure EVs. And if we consider 25%, than instead of 150,000 we have almost 300,000. And 12,500 would “only” be some 4% of them. So, certainly not speaking of one only model to fulfill everyone…

Let’s just hope more and more options come soon! 🙂

Yeah, I guess you are right on the 2nd point. You can take the 25% as the EV-viable fraction of any monthly/annual market in terms of the buyers’ needs.

Nissan doesn’t have much competition right now in their price range. The Voltec and Energi products price out a little higher, and are more natural competitors to each other than the Leaf. BMW, Mercedes and Teslas models will be for a higher end buyers — Sure there will be some exceptions, but the Leaf is just way more affordable than those. The Leaf should be the #1 plug in for 2014 for U.S. sales. I think 36,000 is achievable, but my hunch is closer to 30k.

At what point do federal credits expire? They will really need to be ready to really drop the price at that point.

Right now the Federal tax subsidy is for the first 200k cars per automaker, regardless of model. So they still have at least a couple of years ahead of them…

Thanks Assaf I should have just searched and looked it up. I get lazy when there are already so many tabs open, and I know someone else already knows it off the top of their head.

And yes, you’re right they do have some time to lower production costs.

They do have competition in California and Oregon with various compliance cars. I know it is limited to those states but those are big states for EV sales.

Sure, I’m not saying there is no competition, but I just don’t see it as very significant compared to the number of markets Nissan may be able to push sales toward. A big part of Oregon being a big EV state is due to Portland being a launch city and marketing. I think a lot more states could be big EV states. The main thing Oregon has going for it is the largest city has year round weather that is relatively mild, reasonable electricity prices, and a lot of public chargers. It doesn’t have everything going for it though. Overall it is fairly rural. Go just a little bit east of I-5 and you have some pretty big temperature extremes. Most importantly it has crap for purchase incentives — the only state credit is for a home charger — and it is not the full cost just a % of it. Still, it was a good choice for an early market as you have a population that is on average receptive to wanting to help the environment, along with a good amount of people interested (and working) in new tech. That may be important for first market, but that will… Read more »

So Chademo compatible cars will again outsell CCS compatible cars, just as the year before and the year before the year before.

As of now, I’m not aware of a single Frankenpkug equipped car sold in the USA.

That would continue to be zero.

Check, Tony, cause you won’t be able to say that much longer :). A poster there says (as of 3:00 p.m.) that the dealer called to tell him that his arrived yesterday and there’s another there, so depending on when he picks it up he may be the first. I know there’s at least one listed in inventory at a Bay Area dealership a day or two ago, so they’re finally arriving.

Oops – No longer listed, so someone must have already bought it!

OK guys, I’ve got an EV trip planner spreadsheet public:

The green cells are input, greyed cells are calculated.
You put in your starting kWh,
distance and speed to next charger, power and time on the charger,
distance and speed to next charger, power and time on the charger,

The interesting parts are the variable efficiency–you can enter your miles/kwh at high speed, and miles/kwh at low speed and have it take into account your trip speed. Also, you can see the charging mph, which is helpful in optimizing your time between charging or driving (and knowing which legs you can drive fast and which legs you must hypermile at 45mph).

This is also an experiment in google doc file locking. Can only one person make changes at a time (all changes are instantly written) or will a person ruin someone else’s optimizing when they change anything? If you have a google account, I suggest copying this to your google drive. (go to, I think it comes automatically with any google account).

Nissan . . . you need 3 things. And I know . . . these are all kinda hard.
1) Lower price. Do what ever you can to lower the price. Make a pathetic stripped down car that few people will buy just so you can advertise a low base price . . . but most people will opt for higher models.
2) Give an option of bigger batteries. ~80 miles is not enough for many. Get it over 100 EPA rated. And over 120 would be even better. Again . . . this should be an OPTION. This is the easiest thing to do.
3) More body styles. Not everyone wants the econobox with the bug-eye headlamps. Build a sedan, a mini-van (you already have this ready with the NV-200!), an SUV, etc.

They already did your #1 suggestion with model year 2013 by introducing the stripped down S model.

The option for a bigger battery is a slippery slope, from a perspective of manufacturing and profitability. If you were to double the size of the battery then you just need twice as many cells, assuming you can find room for them. If you want a 25% increase, that becomes an issue. You can’t just add 25% more battery cells. That won’t work. You’d end up with the wrong voltage for the system. So that means manufacturing a different battery cell for each vehicle. That costs money and reduces the economies of scale. Tesla is somewhat better off since they use the small 18650 cells they are already using a lot of them in parallel. So it is easier to add/remove cells. But Nissan’s large format cells just don’t scale that way.

The Mitsubishi i-Mev electric car from what I have been running around on to the internet might be the first existing electric car for sale to raise it’s range from the range it started out with in mid 2014 or late 2014. Where I got this rumor from was from Toshiba that around the middle of 2014 they where going to introduce a new bend in their electric car batteries that would allow it to have the same mass and size but with 30% more energy in it. If Mitsubishi is trying to do something about their EV’s crappy range of 62 miles they could in theory replace their existing batteries with these new batteries and get 80 miles range without having to rebuild the battery pack support system in the same car. I suspect that with them having some of the lowest battery ranges in the industry most of everyone else is getting 80 miles on a charge and some new comers are going for 90 plus they would be under the most pressure to raise there car’s range. Here is the story about Toshiba working on a battery that will raise the amount of energy from 176Wh/L… Read more »