Nissan LEAF Is Nissan’s Best-Selling Model*


#1 In Select Cities

#1 In Select Cities

…in 4 U.S. cities, that is.

According to ChargePoint, citing Nissan’s Director Of Electric Vehicle Sales & Infrastructure Deployment, Brendan Jones, the LEAF is Nissan’s top-selling model in these four U.S. cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Portland
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

Surely Nissan is thrilled by this.  Hopefully, in the near future, we can add 6 more cities to that list to get the number of LEAF is #1 to an even more impressive count of 10 U.S. cities!!!

Categories: Nissan


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31 Comments on "Nissan LEAF Is Nissan’s Best-Selling Model*"

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So here is validation that low priced BEVs are great city cars. From this real niche, EVs may expand into the larger market if the batteries ever improve.

I strongly agree, Shawn, with one addition: BEVs are both great city cars AND great secondary (2nd, 3rd, 4th, …) cars in multiple-car families.

I’ve had this discussion many times with friends and relatives: They ask the inevitable “how far can it go on a charge” question, I tell them, and then they say, “but I often have to drive my SUV further than that in a day”. I then point out that they own 3 cars, and 2 of them are almost never driven more than 50 miles per day, so they could be saving a ton of money on fuel and maintenance by replacing those dinosaur-esque oil burners with BEVs. (I leave out the derisive comments about their current cars, obviously.)

Couple this with the ability of people who own their own homes and can put up solar panels, and you have a situation where the suburbs, the favorite villain of many environmentalists, can lead the charge (no pun intended) in de-carbonizing personal transportation.

I think that you will find in most households with an EV + another vehicle, that the EV is the primary vehicle and is driven the highest number of miles in the household – no the secondary vehicle.

That’s what has happened in our household. We have a Leaf (our second) and a Honda Civic Hybrid, and when we first got the Leaf, we thought we were “protected” by still having the Honda, and that they would each be driven about half the time. What ended up happening is the Leaf is about 95% of all the driving, and the question is “who gets stuck with the Honda?” The Honda is driven only on road trips, and shorter distance trips. At 3 cents/mile, the Leaf is the logical choice for everything else.

Our secondary is Ranger rigged for towing. The car only has about 200 miles range on a gas tank, but it does a job no EV can do in the forseeable future. The EV is for everything else. In fact, our leaf would get used for far more local trips if there were DCFCs south of here (san jose).

Our Think City EV is the primary car. We just purchased a Volt 3 months ago as a second car so the Wife could also drive on electrons to and from work, with dino juice for travel.

I think that the problem is that Nissan does not want to improve LEAF’s battery tech. But it still uses five year old battery tech that is not even cheaper than today’s battery tech.

If LEAF was upgraded to modern battery tech, e.g. Panasonic’s NCA chemistry, the range of LEAF could be increased to 200 miles without significant added cost.

A 200 mile Leaf for nearly the same cost as today’s car would be the biggest seller in 10 states instead of 10 cities. Nissan seems to know the current technology is getting old, so they brought out the 2015 model leaf early. Now they can plan something new for their 2016 model.

I would add that when a family gets an EV as a “second” car it often quickly becomes their first car! When you walk out to get in a car which are you going to pick? The shaking smelly noisy one that costs 12 cents/mile or the smooth quiet civilized one that costs 2 cents/mile. My wife’s Prius sits for days on end, I may have to put a battery minder on it. Even a single person is often better served by owning an EV and renting for occasional road trips, there are a lot of fixed costs that come with owning a car and renting is actually pretty cheap.

I think that this is not that fair comparison as LEAF has near monopoly in plug-in EV markets with Tesla as no other manufacter has tried to introduce an EV on global markets. VW eGolf may be LEAF’s first real direct competitor among plug-in cars.

But all other Nissan’s well selling models are on markets that have fierce competition with dozens of models to choose from different manufacturers.

The reality … the LEAF out sells all other Nissan’s non-electric models in these markets. It’s not that the LEAF is competing with other electric plug-ins, it’s competing with Nissan’s gas-power offerings and coming out #1.

Of note, the LEAF has been #1 in these 4 markets for many months running (not a one-time thing), while Nissan has been increasing market share against other automotive dealers.

The global PEV offerings are not relevant to these regional markets. Each major manufacture makes a PEV that other branded dealers could market but they are failing to compete. Clearly there is a market for EVs, but many dealers won’t, or just can not compete.

Nissan dealers are winning by being tops in the fastest growing automotive market segment, which has over 150% year over year growth. This is a market segment that will exceed 5% of all sales in many markets in next couple years, likely 10% by 2020. Are other dealers going to continue to compete in shrinking competitive market, or try competing in the fastest growing market segment?

The Leaf shows what happens when you are brave enough to actually bring a car to market, rather than have it vanish in concept car-vapor, and you are also the first to market. One big reason I initially leased a Leaf was to reward Nissan for having the courage to bring an EV to market. That, and to make a used Leaf for the next guy.


The Leaf right now accounts for about 3% of Nissan’s nationwide sales, but about 10% of its nationwide year-over-year growth.

Thus far – touch plug – seems like Carlos Ghosn’s gamble is starting to pay off handsomely.

Yeah, I think so.

I’m interested where they can get the price down to by the time enough are sold that the Federal $7500 phases out.

You’ll have a lease term end around this time in 2016, and my 39 month Volt lease will be up a couple months later. I expect they’ll still be under 200,000 by that point.

Best selling model or best selling car? The headline says one and the post says another.

As far as an EV making a great ‘second’ car – why does it have to be second? Our pickup is the second!

I really hope Nissan can start cranking out setting up new fast chargers in these cities. In that Atlanta has very few of them despite it having a fast growing population of electric cars in it.

I’d rather have someone else do it so they set up dual-standard chargers.

Nissan does not act like the Leaf is their #1 seller here in San Jose. It is not anywhere on the showroom floor, and there are no banners or other obvious ads for it anywhere.

That’s because a few NoCal dealerships have taken it upon themselves to really push the LEAF while the others have neglected it. I’m thinking of Sunnyvale and Boardwalk in your area.

According to there are four dealers that are serious about selling the Leaf in the South Bay. Seriousness backed by inventory that is.
Hayward 127 cars
Boardwalk 113 cars
Stevens Creek 92 cars
Sunnyvale 65 cars

Those are the only dealers within 100 miles of San Francisco that show more than 35 Leafs on hand.

You are probably right, I also know someone who got a very good lease deal from Boardwalk. Next time.

(this is starting to sound like an AD!)

While this is really good news the downside is that it also says something about the rest of Nissan’s line. When I first drove Datsuns they were competitive with Toyota for top foreign manufacturer and Honda was this little upstart. But for decades now Honda and Toyota have had top selling sedans and minivans (and pickups for Toyota) while Nissan fell further and further behind without a real manufacturer identity. Versa, Sentra, Altima – all “me too” kind of cars, not very distinct even from Hyundai any more.

West Coast is best coast.


In Washington, you’d pay a hefty sales tax on any Nissan model other than a LEAF. Obviously, CA and GA have great incentives that you wouldn’t get with any Nissan but a LEAF. So why isn’t Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego on this list? Illinois and Colorado have good tax credits too, why aren’t Denver and Chicago? In comparison, Portland (and Oregon for that matter) does not have the same kind of financial incentives that favor the LEAF model over non BEV’s. Yet, it sells more than their other models, and this is nothing new they were talking about it here last summer. There should be more cities on this list by now.

California incentive is not that great. You have to pay sales tax but you do get a $2500 incentive.

San Francisco is a bit more progressive than LA, San Diego, and Sacramento.

Yeah, but $2500 is a lot more than zero and doesn’t seem like pocket change, at least for me. In California $2500 may be considered pocket change though.

I said there should be more cities on this list … but that is no small task. The Altima sells 20k-30k a month.

For L.A., I wonder if there are a decent amount of people that commute by car, can’t charge at work, and drive round trip to close to the LEAF’s range? If so, that has got to suck to have to spend so much of your life commuting.

All those cities are just happen to align with the BEST incentives relatives to its competitors (other plugin cars or hybrids).

When I say incentives, that is the total package, from HOV lane to cash back, from discount sales tax to low electricity rate…etc.

Incentives impact the LEAF sales directly.

Other than Portland yes. Our relatively low electricity rate doesn’t make up for the thousands of dollars that several other cities not on this list that are within states with significant BEV specific credits. Of course, if you are going to be seen driving solo instead of riding a bike here, it helps you save face to be driving something with obvious green styling. Oh I can’t forget we have lots of opportunity to pay $1-$2/hour to use the plentiful blink stations around here. The math may not work out that well but sometimes they are great parking spots.