LEAF Sales Stall in Japan as US Becomes Nissan’s Overall Sales Leader For The EV

MAY 21 2013 BY MARK KANE 14

2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan LEAF

In one of the two largest markets for electric vehicles, cumulative Nissan LEAF sales recently exceeded 25,000 units.  That, of course, was in the US.  For comparison, cumulative LEAF sales in Europe hover around 10,000 units.

But what’s up in Japan, which is the other one of the two largest LEAF markets?

2013 Nissan Leaf draws electrons from CHAdeMO while looking on blue sky

2013 Nissan LEAF Draws Electrons from CHAdeMO While Looking at the Blue Sky

Unfortunately, LEAF sales in Japan have stalled to below 700 units for the second month in a row.  That doesn’t compare well to the typical monthly level there, which is more in the range of 850 to 1000 units.

In April, only 665 LEAFs were sold in Japan.  That’s down around 30 percent compared to the figures posted for April 2012.

However, there is an upside still for 2013 in Japan.  Since the start of the year, LEAF sales there hit 3,933 units through the end of April.  That’s a tick over 200 more units than were sold in Japan through the first four months of 2012.

Okay, so if we tally the cumulative sales total for the LEAF in the US and, then separately in Japan, we see the race is now neck and neck, with a slight edge going to the US.  In both nations, 25,000 +/- LEAFs have now been sold since it launched in late 2010.  But with sales picking up in the US and stalling out in Japan, the US should soon be able to easily crown itself as the LEAF’s leading country.  That is, unless sales soar soon in Japan.

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14 Comments on "LEAF Sales Stall in Japan as US Becomes Nissan’s Overall Sales Leader For The EV"

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I understand Japan has a much better charging infrastructure. I would think that would make a big difference!

Considered on a per capita basis, I’d say Japan is eating the US’ lunch. And dinner. And then breakfast. Followed by all the snacks laying around the house.

For sure, agreed 100%. There is also a lot of smaller car markets that destroy Japan (Norway being a recent good example).

Long term to be successful in the EV segment you probably need the US, Germany, Japan, France (and even China/India to some extent) as a group to really drive raw volumes and get prices down.

Right now there are 7 large EV markets:

USA – 25k this year, making almost half of the world market (54K);
Japan – 10K
France – 5K
China – 4K (estimate)
Norway – 1.8K
Germany – 1.6K
Netherlands – 1.6K

Together, they represent 85% of the market and these markets will decide a lot of the EV success

Yes, that’s true! According to recent “vehicles per capita” estimates, there are approximately 600 per 1,000 Japanese, and 800 per 1,000 Americans. If we calculate…

((population / 1,000 ) x vehicles per capita) / 25,000 Leafs

…we find that the number sold amounts to ±0.033% of Japan’s vehicles, and in the U.S. only ±0.010%.

Bottom line: Nissan would need to have sold 82,000 Leafs in the U.S. to date to match Japan’s percentage in their respective markets.

Considering per capita, Norway will eat both. But if you separate out CA it is able to compete.

Another consideration is that the Leaf is too big for Japan. Very few cars that size. The Zoe would do much better.

At 655 units, Japan still has double the take rate based on overall sales volume.

Total April auto sales for Japan was 213,165, compared with 1,285,446 for the US.

US as over 603% or 6 times the auto market as Japan, but US Leaf sales were only 295.7% or about 3 times higher than Japan.

Leaf sales in Japan was about .30% of the market, double the US at at about .15% of the market.

Japan is actually doing quite well, since the US would need to sell about 3,856 Leaf units per month, to match Japan sales of 655 based on market size.

The Japanese cities are too congested already and very dense. Many don’t need a car, much less an EV that costs more.

Japan has very high overall car sale numbers.

And most are Kei cars.


Ugly cars don’t sell as well as attractive ones…

Gas is $5.70/gal in Japan too.

I don’t know whether it is stalled or just normal Japanese business cycle based on the fiscal year ending in March.