Nissan LEAF US Sales Continue Winter Blues In February

2 years ago by Jay Cole 44

Production Of The New Longer Range, 30 kWh Edition Of The Nissan LEAF (shown above) Is Near Glacial In The United States - And Sales Are Hurting As A Result

Production Of The New Longer Range, 30 kWh Edition Of The Nissan LEAF (shown above) Is Near Glacial In The United States – And Sales Are Hurting As A Result

After seeing some very impressive results for Nissan with the arrival of its new, longer range 2016 LEAF in Japan for January (2,593 sold), we though we might see a significant uptick for the model in the US this month.

Nissan LEAF sales in Japan Blast Off With The New 30 kWh Edition

Nissan LEAF sales in Japan Blast Off With The New 30 kWh Edition

Unfortunately, we did not.

Nissan continues to baffle us with anemic production and a sporadic national roll-out of its 2016 LEAF in 30 kWh trims (107 mile range comes standard on SV and SL trims).

Despite the new model being in its 3rd full month of availability, just ~1,500 copies on average were available for sale in February. Put another way, that is just over 1 LEAF per dealer.

The result was 930 cars sold in February, off 22% from February of a year ago, when 1,198 of the shorter range/24 kWh LEAFs were sold.

For the first two months of the year, sales are off almost 26% (1,685 vs 2,268).

As to speculate the issue behind the lag in LEAF sales, it would seem that either Nissan is having difficulties building out the new 30 kWh batteries (with new chemistry) for its SV/SL trim cars, or its dealers are having a crisis of confidence with the ~$6,000 higher starting MSRP for the EV.   Either way, it is not good.

Heading into March, Nissan has a decent overall inventory of LEAFs (~3,500), but less than half are of the new 30 kWh variety (~1,550) … and they are distributed very sporadically across the country.

We should note that although we don’t actually pit one plug-in versus another, the imaginary “race” (or perhaps “slow-limp”would be a better terminology) between the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF for top selling plug-in for America has returned to a near dead heat, as the Nissan LEAF head a small advantage over the Chevy heading into March 91,276 to 90,872.

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44 responses to "Nissan LEAF US Sales Continue Winter Blues In February"

  1. Ct200h says:

    Leaf was a great start , adding some features and range for 2016 helped , but other ev options , low fuel prices and a lame duck model will hold sales lower. No recovery until a compelling long range stylish higher performance Gen 2 Leaf is available.

    1. mrenergyczar says:

      Six model years is too long for gen 1 Leaf, never mind the 200 mile Bolt with liquid cooling of the battery. Gen 2 Leaf better be 200 mile EPA…

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Yep. This sector is moving too fast and if you stand still then you fall behind.

  2. SparkEV says:

    Is it supply limited in that they are sold out or is this due to low demand in that some are sitting on dealer lots? Given that Bolt will be out later in the year, I wonder.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      AutoTrader is listing 3,474 new Leafs of which 2,792 are 2016 models. Doesn’t look like there is much of a supply problem right now.

      1. SparkEV says:

        2800 does seem high, but what’s typical level? Without knowing typical level of inventory, we can’t gauge demand. For example, if typical was 5000 available, today could still be supply contrained.

    2. Johannes says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head with the “Bolt” comment, that has to also be a big reason for slow LEAF sales. I own the 24 Kwh version and although I love it, its short comings can get very annoying.. so longer range with the Bolt right now for people on the fence has to look way better right now. Personally if I dont see a drastic change in the upcoming model (pricing included) I will end up getting a Model 3, budget be dammed!

  3. tosho says:

    It is probably quite stupid to buy a Leaf now instead of waiting 10-12 months for the Bolt. In just a year even the 30kW Leaf will be totally outdated.

    1. Alpha777 says:

      The 2017 Volt, now available, has high speed collision prevention option. Not in the Leaf.

  4. Alan says:

    They must have an issue supplying out the 30 kWh battery ? Although the $6k is a real put off, you would think if they were churning out lots of them, their inventory would swell if it’s just a price issue.

    I know here in the UK, the Sunderland factory which built the 24kWh battery are not going to be supplying the 30kWh battery as that’s now coming out of Spain for Europe and they are concentrating on the new 60kWh battery for next year.

    1. Mathias says:

      It is interesting that they are building the 60 KW battery in Spain. I would think they would be doing that in Japan also.

      1. Mathias says:

        Sorry. I read that wrong. They are producing the 60 KW battery in England.

        1. Alan says:

          I’m not sure why they decided to skip the 30kWh battery in England and go straight to the 60kWh battery, maybe they needed time to scale down one before preparing for the other ?

          My personal view is that the bigger battery and the new leaf will be ready for sale mid to late next year.

  5. Texas FFE says:

    I could go out and pick up a new Leaf today if I wanted to but I don’t want to. Even though the Leaf has DCFC and a 30kW battery and my FFE doesn’t, I prefer to hang on to my FFE until I can get something with much longer range like the Bolt. With a very limited charging infrastructure, an EV with longer range makes a big difference in Texas.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Leaf. I tried to buy an i3 a couple of times but I didn’t like any of deals offered by my local BMW dealerships, now that the Bolt is coming out I’m glad I didn’t.

    2. David Murray says:

      Yep. I’ve been very disappointed in the slow roll out of charging infrastructure in DF/W. However, the Focus Electric was not on the table for me because of the smaller range and lack of DCFC. However, if it had more range the DCFC wouldn’t have been such a problem and vice-versa. The new Focus EV coming out should be much more capable simply for the range boost. If it has CCS charging, that won’t really matter here in Texas as we have almost none of those.

  6. Cwuwlaw says:

    Look at resale values of the Leaf to see why people will wait for next generation. My 2015 SL is worth around 1/3 of its original MSRP. My guess is People don’t look at Leafs because of this. But many don’t realize the significant incentives Nissan is offering either. I always have to explain to people all the incentives to help them understand why the Leaf is affordable. Maybe Nissan needs to drop the advertised MSRP rather than offering rebates. That may help educate people that Leafs don’t cost $40,000 anymore. Otherwise, why buy a 110 mile car with news of a 200 mile car coming this year for the same price?

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      I may buy a Leaf or two for my kids when they start driving. I bet I could get a low mileage model for less than $4k in three to five years from now.

  7. DNAinaGoodWay says:

    Why pay full price now, when in just a few months you can get a much better deal on the same car? I’ve seen reports of ’15s going for $16k net. That’ll be the ’16s next year.

    1. Lou says:

      I am not in a position to buy another car(at almost ANY price) this year, as I am smack dab in the middle of paying for my Volt. Problem for me is that my other(ICE)car doesn’t know that, and will probably exit stage right by this time next year. In my mind I’d love to pick up a used, low mileage 2016 30KW battery Leaf next year for a steal.

  8. Kaleb says:

    My Leaf will be going off-lease around the time these 200 mile EVs are available for sale, which makes me curious if any special lease buyouts will be offered. My Leaf has been trouble free and a great car to drive.

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      Off-lease buyout specials? My buyout price was $18k, which Nissan reduced to $13k.

      I offered $9k, which was refused. The car went to auction and was subsequently listed for $9k on a used car lot several states away. This tells me it went for ~$6k at auction, the buyer put $1k into tires, transport, and detailing, and it probably sold for $8k.

      I think it makes no sense whatsoever to consider buying out the lease on a Leaf.

  9. Mike says:

    Nissan have really missed the opportunity to build on their early lead and are actively squandering it. Who is going to get a 30Kw Leaf knowing the 60Kw Bolt is months away. Its doubtful they will even have a car to compete against the Model 3.

  10. ericonline says:

    These awful sales are really no surprise given the increase in price, age of the car, and upcoming Bolt, Model 3, LEAF 2.0. On the bright side the horrible sales will probably spur Nissan to get moving on the LEAF 2.0 as opposed to milking all the LEAF 1.0 sales they can get.

  11. JackDFW says:

    A 100 mile search in DFW area shows:

    99 new Leafs at dealers.

    Only 10 are 2016 but only 6 are 30kw SV/SL models.

    So supply is low in DFW.

    1. David Murray says:

      I noticed the same thing. If you wanted a 30Kwh Leaf in DF/W, it’s going to be hard to get.

      1. ericonline says:

        Has anyone considered the possibility that supply is low because demand is low? Seriously, everyone stop trying to make excuses for the bad sales. It is what it is. There are 6 sitting in the DFW area collecting dust. Why would the dealers order more?

        1. Murrysville EV says:

          I have to agree. Nissan knows how to build these cars.

  12. Ash09 says:

    I think the Leaf is suffering because of its still fairly high price tag, and the fact that competitors will be coming out with longer ranged EV’s shortly.

    They may have to reduce the MSRP to $24-27k pre-tax credit/incentives for the high end model if they want to keep enticing people to get a Leaf.

    Otherwise I believe most people will just wait for the Chevy Bolt, the Tesla Model 3, or the Gen 2 Leaf, whenever those come out.

    1. SparkEV says:

      SparkEV sells for about $23K to $26K pre subsidy (~$13K to $16K post subsidy in CA), so it’ll be interesting to see how that’s affected. It’s typically ~150 cars/mo. If there’s no change in that, lower price for Leaf might spur more sales. But if SparkEV sales are also dropping, lower price Leaf may not help.

    2. SparkEV says:

      I just saw the Feb sales report. SparkEV did very well, so dropping the price on Leaf could spur more sales. Whether that price point is possible with 30kWh Leaf is doubtful.

  13. @marcel_g says:

    I’m in the process of convincing my wife we should get a plug in car next, but the current gasmobile is paid off, so adding $400 or $500 / month to our budget is a hard sell.

    So I’ve got a spreadsheet for costing out various options, and buying a used LEAF and then renting cars for trips is an option. It’s a bit cheaper than a new 30Kwh LEAF.

    So I have been leaning towards getting a LEAF, but now with the news of the Bolt, and the Outlander PHEV becoming available, I’m basically holding off until I see how much those will actually cost here in Ontario.

  14. sese says:

    It seems like leaf buyers are waiting for Bolts and Bolts for M3.

  15. John says:

    I’m certainly waiting for the Bolt. Our 2013 Leaf just lost its second capacity bar at a little over 20K miles of light and careful use. Love the car but very glad we leased. Going with something that has active thermal management for the battery next time. Don’t care if I have to wait.

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      2 bars lost in 20k miles is very bad. I was about to lose my first bar at 27k miles (-15% capacity), and my Leaf was a 2012 with the lesser battery and resistive heater.

      +1 on the lease decision.

  16. Mike says:

    great point on pricing – while all the other manufacturers are touting increase battery size for less money, Nissan are increasing the cost of the car at the same time as GM are announcing 60K batteries for the same money.

  17. Just_chris says:

    Time for a march price cut, it’d be great to see nissan fight back this year.

  18. Klaus says:

    I like my Leaf, mostly due to it being fully electric and having pretty good storage space/room for passengers. Other than that, the battery cooling and other features are meh.

    When people ask about buying one I say wait for the Bolt or the M≡

    For the supercharger network alone, I’ll be waiting for the Tesla rather than getting a Bolt. Nissan and BMW both have some work to do to keep the EV market share they currently have.

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      For the greater good of the EV market, Nissan and BMW, etc, should work out a deal with Tesla to use the Supercharger network, for a price.

    2. @marcel_g says:

      You’re right Klaus, Nissan, BMW, Kia, and GM should really be getting on the DC fast chargers. I’ve factored in renting cars for trips when considering which EV is top on my list. Quebec is building them, and I’m not sure what’s going on in the US, but here in Ontario we have exactly zero non-Tesla DC fast chargers on any travel route.

      Even the 330km range of the Bolt (which I’m guessing could be reduced by about 60-80km with highway driving) is a pretty much no go for travelling here in Ontario.

      I’d like to get a BEV, so as not to have to haul around an ICE, but the Outlander PHEV is looking attractive, depending on what its pricing ends up being, of course.

  19. blakem says:

    For me, the biggest problem with the LEAF is the depreciation. With the 2013 LEAF I leased, the residual value was 50% which gave me a great lease deal. I was considering a 2016, but now the residual is 30% which makes the lease rates significantly higher. There are quite a few 30kW versions that have been sitting in New England for the past few months and not selling, despite generous state incentives.

  20. Rebel44 says:

    I am also one of those, waiting for Model 3, Leaf 2 etc.

  21. bark says:

    Everyone I know is focused on the Bolt and Model 3. LEAF is dead.

  22. Alex says:

    In January Leaf was Best selling vehicle of the World With 4400 sales, February are very good results, Norway on third place, Tesla no where in 20, also Spain, Irland, Sweden results I looked are very good. So perhaps US is living in future. When Bolt comes out, you can also say LG battery cells with 56 Ah are old, new already have 63Ah. And who houd buy a Tesla 70 today, few months 70 is dead going to 85 standard ;-). I mean it’s good some people live in present, also Bolt will look damn old next to Leaf 2, Nissan announced Piloted Drive 1.0 for Roque 2017, and2.0 for 2018. Its like consumer electronic, you can wait for ever, 425 kg battery like in Bolt everybody will laugh in 2020.