Nissan LEAF US Sales Sag In April

MAY 1 2015 BY JAY COLE 27

Nissan LEAF Sales Strengthen In April - Relatively Speaking

Nissan LEAF Sales Continue To Weaken In April

It has been a struggle in the first three months of the year for the both Nissan and the electric vehicle industry overall to keep the pace with last year’s sales.

For The First Time Ever, Nissan May Be Dealing With Too Much LEAF Inventory In US (photo via Scott F)

For The First Time Ever, Nissan May Be Dealing With Too Much LEAF Inventory In US (photo via Scott F)

And while the EV segment had edged out a thin 3% gain in the first quarter of 2015, the LEAF hasn’t been as fortunate – off 27% over the same time.

That trend unfortunately continued in April with just 1,553 cars sold, which is off about 15% from last month, and more than 25% off last year’s mark of 2,088.

Total sales for the year now stand at 5,639 cars versus 7,172, now off an adjusted 22%.

Nissan did note that during the month that the company “launched No Charge to Charge in Indianapolis and Fresno, California, providing two years of no-cost access to quick chargers throughout these markets with the purchase or lease of a new LEAF electric car,” which brings the program now to 15 cities.

Historically, Nissan has accounted for about 25% of the plug-in market share in the United States, with 1 in every 4 EVs being a LEAF; that number has fallen this year to almost 1 in every 6 (17.5%).

Nissan LEAF Historical Sales And Percentage Of Plug-In Market Through March 2015

Nissan LEAF Historical Sales And Percentage Of Plug-In Market Through March 2015

Interestingly, despite a slower start to the year, inventory of the Nissan LEAF nationwide hit historical highs in April – averaging more than 6,000 cars throughout the month.

At this point we aren’t sure if this should be considered Nissan finally catching up to demand and comfortably stocking the car, or if they simply overshot internal estimates for how many copies they would sell in the first 4 months of the year, and now have too many.

...Soon To Be America's Fastest Contracting LEAF Community This July

…Soon To Be America’s Fastest Contracting LEAF Community This July

Looking to the future, and possibly compounding the problem of ‘too much inventory/not enough sales’, is the decision by Georgia to ax its more than generous EV credit of up to $5,000 at the end of June.

This means the state that used to lead the nation in EV adoption, is now going to likely fall to the back of the pack.  This development hits Nissan the hardest, as the LEAF often sells more than 500 copies there in a month – with one month even crossing the 1,000 unit sold level.

Also of interest this month in regards to the Nissan LEAF:

  • We speculate that a longer range option for the 2016 LEAF may be coming this year – here is why
  • Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn decided to get back into the prediction game, and set an annual sales target for the LEAF in North America at 50,000 units

Categories: Nissan, Sales


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27 Comments on "Nissan LEAF US Sales Sag In April"

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BEV sales will disappoint until 200 mile mid-priced options are available. I’ve had a taste of EV driving, but I’m waiting.


I think we are starting to see market saturation for 80ish miles range BEV. Longer range and lower price are needed now.

Disappoint? Why the negativity? The way up is never a straight line, and you will have good periods and lesser ones.

There are much more EV’s available and they are being sold in much higher numbers than anyone could have dreamed just a handful of years ago. That is a huge positive.

But of course, the market for the current crop of limited range EV’s is limited. So at some point sales will be plateauing. Did that moment arrive? Perhaps. But the longer range EV’s are around the corner. Don’t panic just yet…

I’m waiting for the 300 mile BEV with a 5 minute recharge capability. That’s when I’ll jump in. The 5 minute recharge might be possible with the Lithium–titanate battery

Why? I find that for commuting and errands, four hours of charging overnight while I’m asleep sufficient. For long distance trips, I think charging for 20 – 40 minutes is sufficient for rest stop/meals. That’s about how long a break we take while driving long distance already. I think that most people going beyond 400 miles will consider flying instead and that only a small minority of hardcore types would ever drive beyond that distance.

Plus one on the charging rate needed to make BEVs work. And the super chargers are already up to a 135 kW charge rate. Or nearly 65 kWh in thirty minute. 65 * 3.5 = 225 miles of range at 70 mph. 3 hours of driving, 30 minutes to grab a bite or p.

I think May and June are going to be crazy high for the LEAF in the Atlanta area. People have taken a wait and see approach on the tax incentive here. Now that it’s a certainty and word has gotten out, you’ll see a flood of people who were on the fence, plus people whose current lease ends July – upwards of December picking up a second LEAF in the next two months.

Many do also expect a general price cut with the next model year change, or getting a Leaf with more extras for the same price. Price cut rumours are always bad for selling things right now.

This came as no sparse to me personal. The reason is why blow $30,000 for a new 84 mile range EV when you can buy a used one $8000.

The only away Nissan is going to save the leaf’s rear end from stopping sales from falling off a cliff is they better start selling leafs with a 130 miles range.

If you look at the sales figures for Spark EV and 500e, they may also explain the decrease in sales for the LEAFs. Over 1600 units sold (combined), on 2 vehicles that were selling around 200-300 units (or less) previously, combined). If one to do the Math, that could have meant some additional 1200+ units away from the LEAFs (making it over 2700 units, potentially). The thing that I worry about most – and that’s good to the consumer currently – if companies start doing these destructive deals on EVs (because the special prices are way below their break even point), what kind of mental conditioning are these companies doing to the consumers? Let’s not forget, those 2 are really compliance EVs too, taking away sales in CA (mostly) from one that’s available nationwide? 1. Don’t buy/lease an EV until these deals struck? 2. EVs can go very low in prices (regarding the range)? 3. How long will OTHER companies start going into the EV pool when consumers expect a very low MSRP (meaning $ loss on manufacturers not just initially, but forever)? IMHO, a price reduction is good, but giving away the vehicles like that of 500e and Spark… Read more »

What about the elephant in the room?

(Hint: It has something to do with the price of a commodity for under $3/unit for the first time since the modern era of EV’s began.)

Jim_NJ You have to let them believe gas prices and economics have nothing to do with EV adoption. The thousands of people in Georgia who have bought LEAFs are all passionate environmentalists who would have bought the LEAF even if the total cost of ownership wasn’t close to $0.

Hey I’m very pro-EV, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking basic economics don’t matter.

Jim, Eric, you are both right that gas prices impact the sales of electric vehicles in various ways, but the fact is that oil price falls like this usually last less than a year, and in fact gas prices hit their nadir in January at $2 a gallon and have been trending up since. They are at $2.60 a gallon nationally, now, and will probably be at $3 a gallon by the end of the summer. The Bakken rig count has been falling for months and it looks like January was the peak month for oil production there.
Relatively small changes in supply and/or demand can have a large impact on prices.

1) Where is correlation index You calculated?
2) Where is ratio between PH/B EVs and all cars sold?

If first is not there, then there is no elephant in the room.
If second is not there, … its not elephant at all.

Get the data first!
(Do not live in USA but we already have studies showing weak correlation of EV sales and gas prices, and as far as I know, gas prices are on the (slight) INCLINE recently in USA)

Wow, it’s amazing people are clinging to this belief. It is very naive to think the price savings on fuel doesn’t play into the economics of a car purchase. The lower the pricepoint of the car, the bigger the impact on sales. A $1 move in gasoline is similar economically to raising or lowering the price of the car by 1 or 2 thousand dollars. This will have virtually no impact on a Model S, but look what happens to 500e and Spark EV sales when they discount the lease deals.

The scatter grams that have been published are misleading. EVs are in their infancy so the trend will clearly be up over any time series (just like any new technology) without much regard for fuel prices. But as prices for EVs have come down people who are not early adopters or hard core environmentalists have begun to purchase LEAFs and other lower costs EVs. This group is much more sensitive to fuel prices than the early adopters.

Yes, economics and total cost of ownership are rarely considered by consumers. I shake my head at the huge number of brand new Suburbans and Tahoes in my area.

Hm… birth rate in Europe was on the decline in the last years, as was the total number of storks. I wouldn’t conclude from that, that storks deliver babies though…

przemo_li I’m not going to crunch the numbers because Plug-in-America said they would do that in June. But you can see from InsideEV’s sales scorecard that virtually every plug-in model has declining sales numbers year-over-year. The only exception being the Tesla Model S, but as ericonline explained quite well, “the lower the pricepoint of the car, the bigger the impact on sales”, thus the Model S is less gas-price-sensitive than the rest of the plug-in pack.

That being said, there are many new plug-in models, so the total plug-in sales may still be increasing. It’s really hard to build the correlation index and ratio you want when there are multiple variables. For example, are all i3 sales new-to-the-EV-universe buyers, or is the i3 stealing sales from established EVs?

I don’t think gas prices are the main reason for the dropping Leaf sales, plug ins, especially BEVs are still growing. I know the growth factor would be bigger with higher gas prices. But they didn’t just loose sales, but BEV market share, which indicates stronger competition. Higher gas prices would in fact mask that problem. If the BEV market would be expanding at a much bigger rate we might not even notice the drop in market share. Assuming that Tesla sales are mostly unaffected by gas prices, the Leaf would still be number one.

Leaf and other 80ish mile ev’s sales will be flat for a bit. The product as good as it is , now stale and the styling was never popular.
Low fuel prices and the promise of longer range ev’s in the not to distant future are factors.

Well… sad to hear about Georgia’s retro thinking…

My family loves our 2 LEAFs! 2013 and 2015 SLs.
Over 24k miles 100% electric, home solar powered cars.

Oh… and we like the style. It’s subjective.

I would expect LEAF sales to sag these days. Between the upcoming new Volt, the sale on Fiat 500e cars, the sale on the Spark EV, the pre-owned Teslas, and the used LEAFs/Volts hitting the market . . . there is now a lot to compete with the LEAF.

I really want to know what Ghosn knows what we don’t. 50k is a lot by EV standards, that would be half of the Toyota Prius sales. But with the given data so far, they would be lucky to sell even 25k. Maybe there really is a new version coming, maybe not. But if this model continues until 2017(without cutting the price), sales will continue to shrink. The BEV market is growing fast, but the Leafs competition is growing faster. BMW and Fiat became real competition over the last year, and its just a matter of time until VW and KIA will play catch up. Not to mention the next gen Volt.

Think InsideEVs is off on this point …
“We speculate that a longer range option for the 2016 LEAF may be coming this year”.

Typically updates to LEAF have been announced in Nov/Dec with availability in Mar/Apr for N.America. This likely implies any announcement in 2015 won’t be seen till 2016 CY (perhaps as 2016/17 MY). So at least a year away … in calendar time.

The exception major updates was the LEAF concept first shown Aug 2, 2009 at Tokyo Auto Show with a handful of deliveries in Dec 2010. The 2011 was shown in final form in Nov 2010, and 2013 in Nov 2012. Note: LEAF Aero edition released in Japan last year has yet to be seen in N.America. Could we see the Aero as a 2016 MY update?

My expectation is if Nissan is increasing pack capacity; it will be for a model redesign, not the existing LEAF edition. This is because any major component change requires major engineering work and full certification review.
eg: Tesla Roadster is being reevaluated to meet NHTSA standards, for its higher capacity pack … Nissan would need to conduct similar tests and submit certification documentation.

Maybe the consumer is bored by the Leaf. It’s been around for quite a while, other BEVs have come along and GM showed the “200 mile” Bolt in Detroit. Nissan has to do something to create some new buzz. Either drop the price or launch a higher range Leaf.

More support for expansion of the CHAdeMO network would certainly help sales. Also, Nissan needs new model improvements. New products would bring more customers. They need to follow the Tesla model, which is increasing sales with new models and a supercharger network.

I think the 50k number is what sits firmly in my mind, if they have 6k in stock, have sold 4k that’s at total of 10k in Q1 if production holds that’s 40k, maybe they can do better but unless something changes, sub 40k is what I am expecting