Nissan LEAF Buyers Cross-Shop Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius; Female Buyers Increasing


Erik Gottfried, director of electric vehicle sales and marketing for Nissan North America, was in attendance at a Washington Auto Press Association luncheon.

A 2013 LEAF or a Tesla Model S?

A 2013 LEAF or a Tesla Model S?

What Gottfried made known, perhaps for the first time ever, is that Nissan LEAF buyers often cross-shop the Tesla Model S.

Surprised?  We certainly are.

Though both are electric, the two vehicles couldn’t be more different.  One’s a family-oriented hatchback with a modest price tag and no inclination for being a performance machine.  The other is a near-luxury sedan with a checkbook-swallowing price and performance being its main attraction.

LEAF buyers cross-shop other vehicles too, including the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius, according to Gottfried.

There’s even been a few unusual trade ins for the LEAF.  Gottfried recalls an instance where a Ford F-150 owner traded in his gas-chugging truck for a Nissan LEAF.

Aside from cross-shopping, Gottfried discussed buyer demographics, which he says changed significantly after Nissan reduced the LEAF’s price for Model Year 2013.

As the Detroit News reports:

Nissan LEAF Now More Appealing to Female Buyers

Nissan LEAF Now More Appealing to Female Buyers

“Nissan Motor Co. says the number of female U.S. buyers of its electric LEAF has nearly doubled in recent months, and that the average income and age of buyers has fallen since the automaker cut its price.”

“At the beginning of 2013, women accounted for just 10 to 15 percent of LEAF buyers, but that has increased to 25 to 30 percent.”

Gottfried adds:

“The early buyers were very heavily skewed male.”

“There had been some concern initially of, ‘What if I am by myself and I run out of charge?”

“We’re seeing a normalization in demographics and geographic footprint of the vehicle.”

LEAF Ad in South Africa

LEAF Ad in South Africa

Then there’s this mention of global LEAF sales by the Detroit News:

“Nissan had its best ever-sales month worldwide for the LEAF in September and is now on sale in 30 countries and all 50 U.S. states. About 80 percent of its dealers sell the LEAF. Nissan will be launching in China and the LEAF is being rolled out in South Africa. About 85,000 LEAFs have been sold worldwide.”

Source: Detroit News

Categories: Nissan

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33 Comments on "Nissan LEAF Buyers Cross-Shop Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius; Female Buyers Increasing"

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Quite interesting. I wouldn’t have thought there’d be much cross shopping between the Leaf and Tesla model S.

I want an electric car.
Let’s take a look at the Leaf.
Ooh, Tesla Model S, gorgeous. Shame it’s so expensive. Could I?
OK, back to the Leaf.

But for me, it’s the model s

I’m not surprised. There are a lot of people that can afford the Model S and think about getting but don’t because they view it as just an extravagant waste of money on a depreciating item. These people are economically smart & frugal . . . that is how they acquired enough money to afford a Model S in the first place. It is just a matter of deciding whether it is really worth it to you to spend twice as much money for the luxury. Some will, some won’t.

I see few USED LEAF for sales in the SF Bay Area and the owners are selling b/c they bought a Model S….

“At the beginning of 2013, women accounted for just 10 to 15 percent of LEAF buyers, but that has increased to 25 to 30 percent.”

And it will continue to increase. Just look at it . It’s a girl’s car.

Yes, in the US women like the styling more than men.

I’m surprised the % of women is so low. Perhaps they are not very interested in cars and just go with conservative choices like traditional cars.

I’m not surprised at all. I agree with the article that women may be way more concerned with running out of electricity while driving alone. I know a lady who bought one of the first LEAFs and was freaked out by the guess-o-meter. She quickly traded it in for a Prius. More range, more charging options and more accurate range prediction would help a lot with BEV adoption by women.

or a Volt

I am not surprised at all.

Let’s face it, generally only single women buy cars.
In relationships, the guy usually takes car of buying the car, but the woman often is the one choosing it.

So it is not important with gender signs the paper, but who DECIDED on the purchase.

I read that men mostly buy suvs.
But who are mostly seen DRIVING them?
(small blonde) women!

(Disclaimer: this is not a misogynist comment, but observational.
I do however think women are stupid, but we men are stupid too 😉 )

I understand this perfectly. I’ve been waiting for five or six years for the right EV. I wanted the Volt concept car when it was announced — very bold, sporty, and aggressive — but had no interest in the Volt they wound up producing. A not-too-exciting 4 door sedan. So I’ve been looking closely at every EV released, waiting for the right one. I had pretty much decided I would get either the Fiat 500e or the Cadillac ELR — two cars that could hardly be more different from one another. How could the same person be interested in both? Well, they both have character, are distinctive, and seem like they would be fun to drive. I was willing to pay premium Cadillac prices for the ELR…until they announced a price that is truly ridiculous. I may be a bit more profligate than I used to be, but there’s no way I can justify spending that much money on a car. So I went to the Fiat dealership, was impressed with my test drive of the 500e, and was about to lease it when I thought I’d drive a Volt just for comparison. Wow. Not the sexiest car on the… Read more »

Not the sexiest? Are you kidding me?! Sure Volt is no Tesla, but come on…

the volt now is 10000x better looking that that ugly camaro looking concept the volt is the best looking ev available other than the model s what are you smoking

I assume you in California or Oregon? You could try a Spark EV.

Style really is subjective. I like sports cars and coupes more than sedans, so I much preferred the concept to the production Volt. YMMV. Still, the production Volt is not a bad looking car. Just less sporty. And I did lease it, and I do expect to enjoy it. I anticipate there will be a wider selection of sporty, affordable, and more advanced EVs available when my lease expires in three years.

I did test drive the Spark EV. Not a very substantial feeling car, not even in the same ballpark as the Volt. I also test drove a Smart EV, which drove like a tuna fish can.

The looks of my Volt have really grown on me. I like the hood scoop a lot, and the higher back end. The polished aluminum wheels are nice too. I’m hoping GM makes an EV version of the Tru 140S concept.

Whoa! I had never heard of the Tru 140S. That is one gorgeous looking car! If they make an EV version of that (and don’t bland it down), they can take my deposit now.

Most Volt buyers bought the car after a test drive.

It “was” the best performing plugin car under $40K until the Spark EV came out….

The Volt is a poor compromise in every way. Claustrophobic interior, giant center channel, poor visibility, only seats 4, a joke of a trunk. Mediocre gas mileage. Poor electric range. It’s an albatross.
If you want an electric car, the only real choices are LEAF or Tesla.

GM always touts the Avolts great range. A Hyundia accent gets similar range for a whole lot less money. If you want electric range, nothing beats a Tesla and even the LEAF is more than twice the range of the Volt.

BS love my Volt, the Leaf is just an EV-plugin, the Volt does that and you can take it on long trips without getting stranded. Petrol / Gas stations are still around you know…. Charging station – I’ll let you EV only car drivers have charge rage over who unplugs whom.

Plus the Volt is way way sharper looking than a Leaf.
Tesla has shown EV only cars don’t have to “wacky” to be EV,
Nissan, Toyota need to get with the program…
Even Honda’s Hybrid Accord 2014 and Hybrid Plug look nice and normal, not great like a Tesla, but at least there normal.
So well done to Honda.

i’ve noticed that all leaf owners are a bunch of goofs in terms of how they look so a goof car for goof person

I don’t believe we have met, so how can you possibly know whether I’m goofy looking?

(Not that I’m denying it)

“What Gottfried made known, perhaps for the first time ever, is that Nissan LEAF buyers often cross-shop the Tesla Model S.”

What does “often” mean? Did 2 people cross shop them?

I would say if you are looking for a plug-in vehicle, why not try a bunch? I personally looked at the LEAF, Volt, Ford CMax and Fusion Energi and Prius, no Tesla but only because there is no place to check them out in MN otherwise I would – have despite the price (they ARE superior!) Wound up at a decision between Prius and LEAF myself and the LEAF won due to Toyota being unable to talk about a Plug-In model in Minnesota.

You absolutely can try a Tesla in Minnesota. We went to the store in Eden Prairie about a month ago!

I am NOT sure if Nissan wants the Leaf to become a “chick” car….

But typically, females buyers don’t care about performance as much as male buyers. They tend to care more about safety, economy and features…

Surprisingly, the 2013 and 2014 LEAF are 4-star rated in crash rating vs. the 5 star rating that 2011/2012 models had….

There is no 2014 LEAF yet and the 2013 is very much 5 star rated.
What are you specifically referring to?

I see it on the NHTSA website. As you said 2013, 2014 listed as 4 star overall while the 2011 and 2012 listed as 5 star. I wonder why. The 2014 isn’t out yet and no information has been released as yet.

More info about why for you here Sammy:

Minor differences in the 2013 Leaf vs. the 2011-12. It was lightened. It was produced on a different continent. Specifically, Leaf went to 4 star for not being as safe for female passengers.

Despite being less rated as less safe for women, more women are buying them? Regardless, a greater % are buying them. How can that be? I doubt it is because the women buying them feel they don’t have enough risk in their life? It is because there are other larger factors coming into play. I think that has more to do with Nissan is doing an outstanding job marketing the car vs. engineering the car. Better marketing, lower price, increased production. That will make a bigger impact on sales than what people are talking about here. Not that it is a bad car, its just that buying decisions aren’t always based off of facts alone. There is emotion wrapped up in it and the right marketing is key.

The way Nissan marketing learns which models were cross-shopped is to ask buyers in a survey what other cars they looked at. For us it would have been Volt, Focus Electric, Tesla. What, Tesla, you say? Of course we knew it was extremely unlikely but as we were getting an electric car might as well look at the top-of-the-segment model. I do think some people looked at both cars, thought about stretching the budget to go with the Tesla, then decided to save money with the LEAF. This is actually a common behavior of car shoppers – sometimes they end up deciding not between two similar cars but between two cars with very difference prices, such as a Versa vs a Lexus. Basically they have decided on their favorite low cost car and favorite high cost car and now are making a lifestyle decision. The question of few women buying initially is not a surprise to anyone who studies high tech innovator/early adopters – for whatever reason men are much more likely to buy a high tech device that is known in advance to require a lot of learning by the consumer, and I suspect that the same expectation applied… Read more »

I had a 2011 Volt. Drove it for two years and put less then 20 gallons of gas total in it. Great Car. I traded it in with Tesla. I am a happy camper. One is an economical car for commuting. The Tesla is pure luxury without the gas. The Tesla is an amazing car, but it is expensive.

I bought my electric Smart car at a Mercedes dealership in San Francisco. While I was in there I saw a row of $70,000 Mercedes sedans for sale and I thought why would anyone pay 70 thousand dollars for that when I could get a Model S for the same price and the dealer privately agreed with me.