Nissan LEAF Sales Outpace Chevy Bolt EV In February, As “New” LEAF Set To Debut Soon-ish

Nissan IDS Concept

MAR 1 2017 BY JAY COLE 74

Nissan LEAF Enters month 75 on the market in February

Each month we dutifully report on Nissan LEAF sales in the US, and each month we hope that the “new” LEAF will debut before the next month arrives.

Unfortunately, with no major auto shows in February (with apologies to people of Chicago), the likelihood of that happening this month was nonexistent, so we are left with reporting on the sales on the oldest plug-in vehicle on the market today.

Yet somehow, the ancient LEAF and its 107 miles of range, managed to outsell the brand new, 238 mile Chevrolet Bolt EV last month.

How did this happen?  We have no clue.

For month 75 (February 2017), there was 1,037 copies of the Nissan LEAF sold, which was up 11.5% from the 930 sold in 2015.

Now if one would like to point to availability of the Chevrolet Bolt EV compared to the Nissan LEAF as a reason for the stronger sales…one would be wrong.  With the “new” LEAF coming soon, Nissan has steadily been decreasing national inventories of the LEAF,  which currently sits lower than the Bolt EV.

Which leaves only one conclusion – discounting, of which Nissan did heavily.  But even at that, we didn’t expects February’s result for the “best selling all-electric car without a Tesla badge on the front” to be the Nissan.   (Also of interest related to sales:  somewhat surprisingly, and also a newcomer to the US market, the Toyota Prius Prime bested both the LEAF and Bolt EV handily with 1,362 sales in February)

A word on the “new” LEAF:

While we would like to confidently report that the “new” LEAF will be debuting in Geneva for press days on March 6th and 7th, we can’t do it.

That option just doesn’t make any sense to us, as the US has been the main market for the LEAF historically, sales are actually up in Europe for the LEAF this year…and production of the “new” LEAF is said to kick off first in Nissan’s Smyrna, TN facility.

See you in April “new” LEAF…we’ll be waiting.

We should also take a moment to note that during February Nissan replaced Carlos Ghosn with Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie…kinda.  Ok, not really.

The long-running CEO of Nissan steps down April 1st to focus on leading the Renault-Nissan-Mitubishi Alliance as a whole, as well as continuing on as CEO of Renault.

With that said, if one believe Ghosn is giving up any actual power at Nissan, they would be wrong, as he still is President of the company (and also holds the same title at the recently acquired Mitsubishi Motors.

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74 Comments on "Nissan LEAF Sales Outpace Chevy Bolt EV In February, As “New” LEAF Set To Debut Soon-ish"

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How did it happen? Simple! The Leaf is available nationwide, the Bolt EV is not (yet).

Until the Bolt EV is in more than a few states, I would personally expect this trend to continue.

No, that’s not the answer. Nissan is deep discounting the Leaf right now to reduce inventory, after the inventory is used up the prices will go back up and the sales numbers will go down. You can get a new Leaf after federal tax credit for less $10k.

You make me feel bad. I paid $17,400 for my 2017 Leaf S 30. I do love the longer range.

I feel ya. I bought 2-1/2 year old 2013 FFE for $15k and now you can get a brand new FFE for less than $13k.

Looking at TrueCar and people are paying around $22k for a new Leaf and $37k for a new Bolt EV, figures more Leafs sell.

That’s the answer right there.

It’s very simple. The Bolt ends up costing on the order of $10k more than the Leaf.

It’s certainly more capable. But at that cost difference, a Leaf (especially a discounted Leaf) can look more attractive, especially if it is just serving as a second-car to be used primarily for commuting.

I have a suspicion the GEN 2 LEAF will outsell the Bolt, with more Gee Whiz technology to boot. Even if it has sub 200 mile range, which it probably won’t. And if they have 2 battery sizes, I will bet a cheaper smaller battery version with at least 175 miles, will still have significant sales.

The LEAF is still moving in my area. But it’s all due to discounting. It’s all leases and very cheap ones at that.

I’m glad to see so many people getting EVs of any sort but no one who gets a LEAF right now thinks it’s anything but an interim car. And that’s fine too.

People looking to more make a long term move are getting Bolts, e-Golfs or eagerly awaiting the IONIQ. GM probably should look at how much buzz Hyundai is getting for that car and try to get some more for themselves using the same techniques.

Ya definitely the discounting.

With all of it and the tax rebates I have to admit the Leaf is very attractive. But then I recall the battery sucks. Here’s to hoping it’s better in the new model!

Aren’t all cars interim cars. I mean how many of us keep an everyday car more than 3-4 years. Look at all those used Teslas for sale – guess they were interim, too. That said, I have had my Leaf for 4.5 years and will probably keep it for the foreseeable future.

There are going to be a lot of disappointed folks out there when they realize that range is not the holy grail of EVs.

My two cars are 4 and 12 years old cars. I tend to keep mine for 10 years. The 12 year old one is getting a bit old but still running ok. I expect I will be buying a replacement for it in the next 2 years. Not everyone replaces their cars ever few years.

I don’t really agree. Yes the Leaf range is poor, but for a city car it is perfectly acceptable. So why spend a bunch more for a Bolt that is in many ways less practical (much less cargo room) and still can’t do road trips (no fast charging, poor charging network).

For our family, the Leaf works, the Bolt doesn’t. Outside of range it’s worse than the Leaf.

The Bolt doesn’t have less cargo room. And I don’t see where i said it was bad that people bought city cars.

As to why people would buy longer range cars than they need, they’d do it for the same reason they always have. Most people feel like buying less car is settling. Hence all the 3-row SUVs and performance cars out there.

Leaf: 23.6 cubic feet cargo volume
Bolt: 16.9 cubic feet cargo volume

The Leaf has 40% more cargo volume than the Bolt does.

Possibly the BOLT has more if you fold the 2 rear 60/40 seats down. For a family of 4, that may not be as bad as it seems. Perhaps there will be adequate room if the ’40’ is folded and then the kids can sit in the ’60’. Even at only 2/3 the space, the BOLT seems roomier in the back than in the front.

How did this happen?

Was it availability? Discounting? I’ll put my money on Both. Reading the forums of both Leaf and Bolt, you will see that leases on the Bolt are more than twice the cost of leases on the Leaf. Bolts typically go for over $400, and people are reporting Leaf leases under $200. Combined with the fact that 47 of the US states had zero access to a Bolt in February, it’s not really that much of a stretch to see how the Leaf outsold it.

That said, I’m still surprised by the results. I expected to see the Bolt sell over 1,000 units with the Leaf unable to break into 4 digits. This won’t last, Nissan. You need to get us the Leaf 2.

The Chevy Bolt is a compliance car, but GM will make it available in other states for those who are interested. However you may want to get the supper Charge option, but keep in mind it will take an hour and a half to charge to 80% at a 50 kilowatt hour charging station.

You’re a compliance car. I mean if you can redefine the term to mean anything, so can I.

+100. I think you just won the Internets.

I like my new Victor. It gets 200 miles to the charge, a bit slow on the uptake, 0-60 in 8.0, and a bit too much hard plastic.

You clearly don’t know what “compliance car” is.

Oh he does, all too well. Otherwise we will be talking about the all-electric Malibu, Envision, and ATS, you know, cars that people want to buy.

Tesla is a compliance company, what’s your point?

Just like Nissan with the Leaf, Ford is deep discounting the Focus Electric right now to reduce inventory. You can get a new FFE for less than $13k if you shop around and are willing to ship your car from dealers that actually have inventory. I expect FFE sales numbers to be better than normal for February but FFE sales numbers have disappointed me before.

FFEs are cheap around my area but difficult to find. More than normal. It’s like when the Spark EV was so cheap for a while ($100 lease payment without a huge down) and supplies just evaporated since they all flew off the lot.

Great Deal! Now you are tempting me to hit my Ford dealership.

Unless you live in Washington state or someplace that actually has inventory or you’re willing to ship you’re probably out of luck. There isn’t a new FFE for sale within a thousand miles of Texas. This time last year all the local Ford dealers had Focus Electric inventory.

Oh, well. Thanks.

Specifically there’s a $10,000 rebate on new Leafs. For some reason Nissan is doing that in cooperation with local power companies, but it’s all Nissan money. I had to replace a car last week and wound up getting a nice deal on an off-lease 2015 Leaf. I took a look at the new Leafs because of the bigger batteries but even with the rebate and some dealer discounts it really didn’t seem worth it, knowing what will be available relatively soon.

I guess the new leaf not showing up in Geneva is partly down to the last minute autonomous testing, they have been testing them in London here in the UK, also some regulatory approval of the ProPilot systems which will use radar, laser scanners, cameras & computer systems.

In Geneva there will be the “Electric surprise” from Renault. Which could be a concept based on the Leaf for Renault.
I suppose the Leaf will be introduced either in Tokyo or in the US indeed.

This isn’t very surprising to me. I love the Bolt, but the Leaf is a steal in comparison. Even if I were buying an EV today instead of 2 years ago, I would still choose the Leaf since you can get it for less than half the effective cost of the Bolt.

Put another way, would you pay twice as much for the Bolt as the Leaf?

No. I would get a Volt because the Bolt and Leaf are ugly.

Sitting in a Bolt I found it to be cramped and with poor visibility.

I initially found the front seats a bit uncomfortable at the Auto Show in the BOLT, but after having spent more than an hour in them driving around, I find the plain old cloth seats are very comfortable, and nice looking, with attractive red outline stitching matching the Red metalic paint option.

Gravity challenged readers may think differently, but its fine for me.

But the car has the VISIBILITY of a commercial bus – that wind shield is the largest of any car I’ve ever had, and the standard ‘Night Vision’ backup camera is also the brightest and most detailed I’ve ever seen. Poor visibility how? I don’t get it.

I have a client who wanted an EV for their local use car: running to local shops picking up various supplies, small errands, etc. They decided an EV would be good for their image since they’re involved in electrification of off-highway vehicles.

Range wasn’t a giant consideration since trips were rarely more than 15 miles and the car is parked indoors, meaning the battery won’t suffer as much range degradation in the winter.

The boss wanted something “new”. I found him an out-of-state (320 mi away) 30kWh 2016 CPO Leaf with under 2000 (two, not twenty thousand: TWO thousand) miles. All-up with tax, registration, extended warranty and shipping to the factory under $16k. It’s perfect and loaded. They just wanted to move it.

There are many EV uses that can be met by the Leaf. At these prices you might find that a compromise on range is worth it; in fact in reality there may not be a compromise at all, and 90-100mi is plenty.

My state, like a few others, Nissan is offering a $10,000 discount for Leafs. That combined with dealer discounts and a $7,500 federal tax credit will push many to get one, even if it is subpar.

If I were to venture a wild guess about the Bolt numbers, it may be that the Model 3 is having an “Osborne Effect” on Bolt sales. GM has for a long time marketed the Bolt as a competitor to the Model 3. But we are now at a crossroads where the Model 3 is still a vast unknown. The TM3 may or may not be cheaper, it may or may not have similar range, it may or may not be available in 6 months, etc… So many unknowns. That spells uncertainty. When you market your car against an unknown, you introduce uncertainty into the decision process. Uncertainty means people delay their decision, even when the Bolt is a perfectly good choice of cars to buy (or lease). With all this said, this is just one theory that I have no actual facts to back up. I’m sure there are many other factors such as those already mentioned. Plus such things as typical GM buyers being highly conditioned to only buy when there are big incentives thrown on the hood. And people have anxiety about relying upon the Federal tax incentive under the current administration. etc…

With heavy discounts and incentives the LEAF is still an attractive car. At $34k it’s way obsolete but at $10k-$15k it makes good sense.

Also the Ioniq should land soon as well as the new leaf so people will no doubt like to take a look at all 3 in addition to the Tesla M3 on the horizon ?

Crazy high pricing (lease or buy) in Canada for the Leaf, so I doubt sales here are of much note.

I hope they do introduce it in Geneva, for I will be visiting. One (not very good) reason to do it in Geneva is to let Ghosn be the one to do it.

I wonder if that little “ADM” price adjustment is keeping people from buying them in droves.

I know I wasn’t interested in being gouged when I saw that on the added sticker on a vehicle I was considering.

Street Price.

Bolt is very expensive for the car you get.

BTW, a local Seattle area dealer is getting a couple of dozen Bolts from CA to sell here before the official Bolt rollout here. That speaks a lot about the demand in CA.

There is no reason for anyone to get a Bolt instead of Model 3 – if they are willing to wait a bit. Recent optimistic news from Tesla will slow down Bolt sales.

What is the name of the Seattle area dealer getting the Bolts, please?

Lee Johnson. They’ll get the cars sometime next week.

My comment disappeared or was it operator error?

Lease is the reason why Leaf did better. Leaf S is leasing for $59/mo compared to over $300/mo for Bolt at similar down payment. 5 times more expensive Bolt is not going to do well, even if the range is double.

Yeah I’m definitely with you on this one, SparkEV!

It’s getting better for the Bolt from a leasing perspective, but only slightly. A few CA dealers have been increasing published discounts on the Bolt for the several weeks… I’ve watched go from no discount to $1200, then $1600, $2000, and now $3000. Ballpark, the discount affects a 3-year lease cost by maybe 50% of the discount, so a $3K discount only really results in a reduction of $40 in the monthly payment.

I suspect Bolt sales might flounder at this point (at least in CA) until the full $7500 fed rebate is passed on to the lessee.

Where are you getting a lease that low? For that kind of money I could get a Leaf for my wife and the gas saving ever month would pay for the leaf lease cost.

Surely this is a blip in the trend. Let’s see a few months of increased sales before we jump to any conclusions.
Bolt seems like the common sense buy with the range, so just be big discounts attracting those to the leaf.

I have a 2011 LEAF and went to finance a Bolt the other day. Chevy is not giving you the state and federal incentives off the bottom line of the purchase. Nissan took the 11k off the price of my LEAF so I only financed the 21k. The Bolt would have cost me 43k to finance, leaving me with an $800 + payment …no thanks.

Don’t forget, we expect EV sales to improve over time, and there are a lot of Leaf owners who would have been showing their car to friends, neighbours, etc. Over the past several years. Those people probably had to wait for their current car to change over, and when it did they were influenced by what their Leaf friend had shown them. Given Leaf and Tesla are the biggest population of EV this would not be a surprise that people would purchase what they know about rather than something they don’t know about. And if Bolt is not available then there are less choices.

Without seeing one, my understanding is the FFE has a comprised boot? That would put a lot of people off.

We often talk about the small battery commuter car and the big battery travel car, so maybe we are seeing the reality that people are happy for their 2nd car to be EV with 100mi range, especially if they are getting it <15k, that sounds like a really good price to me.

Glad to see Leaf inventory dropping and heavy discounting. Roll out the new Leaf already!

Jay and other 30kWh Leaf owners,

How bout an article on how the 30 kWh pack is holding up over time and use.
Are those cells any better than ’14s and ’15s?
I’ll probably pick up a used ’16 before a Bolt is ever affordable where I live in the outback.
Thanks to all that respond..

The 30KWh battery has a better warranty. That tells you something. I find that I charge mine only every second or third day with the increased range. I believe that it matters a lot if you take care of the battery. My Leaf is garaged. I even heat the garage on really cold nights.

GM shot itself in the foot by poorly designed front cloth seats in Bolt LT version. I may actually put off some buyers and affect sales. The Bolt Premier leather seats are (barely) okay.

Really? Tuesday (2/28/17) I purchased a BOLT with only 2 options – heated cloth front seats, and $400 metalic red paint.

The standard cloth seats were tastefully trimmed with close red stitching, and are extremely comfortable to me after an HOUR. I’m Driving to Syracuse to meet ClarksonCote and Red Leaf Brian for lunch, so I’ll have been sitting for several hours at a time (I almost never stop while on the way) – so I’ll know more then.

I also initially was turned-off by the BOLT when I first saw the ‘premiere’ in person (I have the plain old LT), but in retrospect I’m quite happy with the comfort. And the rear seats are even better and even more roomy.

Hey Bill,

I expect a full report on your impressions and experience with your damn Bolt, sometime fairly soon.
And congratulations dammit!

Leaf Brian and ClarksonCote both test drove it, so ask them too. The car has more than enough power, actually too much for a FWD car. Spent 6 hours siting in the driver’s seat Friday (and a bit over 300 miles), 3 hours each way to Syracuse and back basically – the heated cloth seats were fine. Heater is very powerful but hardly used it on that trip since RANGE was all important. It just happened to be the coldest and windiest day of the winter so far here, so windy going back home (into the wind), that my 4 miles/kwh changed to 3 miles/kwh going back home so I knew I was in trouble. Even though I charged up in Syracuse at a 6 kw charger for a bit over 5 hours, I should have done 6 or 7 hours since I had to drive home (again with no heat other than the seat heater) at 45-50 mph to save precious juice. Got home with 10 miles only left -which is cutting it pretty close. Heater is powerful on a 90 mile trip I made today, since I could travel worry-free. People will say I should have had the… Read more »

This is actually pretty straightforward. I drive a Fiat 500e and love it, but looked at the Bolt for the fifth seat and range. The Bolt lease price with leather seats and taxes is over $500. My car is $140/month. Until they drop the price, the Bolt simply isn’t worth it.

I am surprised people don’t talk about the BMW i3 in these conversations, at least where leases are concerned. BMW is giving the full $7500 back as a credit, and their residuals are really high as well. So, people are getting 36 month leases for $350/month with almost nothing down. That, to me, seems a much better deal than the Bolt. I was looking at a Volt last year, but my kids hated the back seats. They like the i3. I think the i3 looks dorky, but it is fun to drive, has a nice airy interior, and is a great commuter car. The ReX engine pretty much negates range anxiety. You wouldn’t want to take a road trip in the i3, but you’re never going to run out of power with a gas engine in there.