Nissan LEAF US Sales Up In May – Crosses 2,000 Threshold

JUN 2 2015 BY JAY COLE 54

While Sales Have Sagged So Far In 2015, The 2016 Model Arriving This Fall Looks To Be Armed With A Bigger Battery...And New Colors (like Deep Pearl Blue)

While Sales Have Sagged So Far In 2015 For The Nissan LEAF, The 2016 Model Arriving This Fall Looks To Be Armed With A Bigger Battery…And New Colors (like Deep Pearl Blue)

Heading into this year, Nissan had set a new monthly record for LEAF sales in 24 consecutive months.  Unfortunately, that trend came to a full stop in 2015.

Thankfully, the 2,104 cars sold in May was Nissan’s best effort of the year by far, and was the first time the model passed the 2k mark in 2015.  In fact, only the Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF have forged into this sales level.

Despite the new 2015 high, the model has now dropped 5 months in a row (on a year-over-year basis) in the US, as in May of 2014, a robust 3,117 LEAFs were sold, making the 2,104 units sold last month represent a decline in sales of 32.5%.

Total 2015 sales come to 7,742 units versus 10,449 sold a year ago this month, a decline of 25.5%.

The two most obvious reasons behind this drop in2015 is that the current iteration is getting a little long in the tooth heading into its final year before a full refresh happens in 2017, and also the introduction of a bevy of other sub-100 mile range plug-ins.

In fact over the past year, almost 21,000 EVs other than the LEAF have been sold in the US with 93 miles of range or less – more than double the ~9,700 sold the 12 months prior, but May’s rise in LEAF sales (compared to the previous 4 months of 2015) may indicate a slight upwards trend.

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

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

New 2016 Nissan LEAF Colors (not lack of any Robin's Egg Blue/Morningsky - huZZah)

New 2016 Nissan LEAF Colors (finally “Robin’s Egg Blue”/Morningsky has left the building)

Thankfully, for the LEAF’s near term outlook, Nissan seems to have anticipated the sag in sales its EV is currently experiencing, and is reportedly planning to offer a 30 kWh battery in both the SV and SL trims (the current 24 kWh battery will be standard still in the base S model).

This larger battery should allow the LEAF to firmly break into the 3-digit mark for range (we figure 105-110 miles of EPA rated electric miles), and put some distance between it and the growing legion of inexpensive city EVs.

The question now is, “Can Nissan turn around sales in 2015 and show a gain?”

With the anticipated arrival of the longer range, 2016 model, not expected until October, that mountain seems far too high to cross.  However, the LEAF looks to once again have no obvious rival come this fall, and should reclaim former sales glory in 2016.

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54 Comments on "Nissan LEAF US Sales Up In May – Crosses 2,000 Threshold"

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“and also the introduction of a bevy of other sub-100 mile range plug-ins.”

The Leaf and the Volt were the original plug-ins from major manufacturers. As more models have arrived from other players, of course the sales of these 2 have been diluted. However, overall plug-in sales are still increasing.

This year’s overall market growth still will be quite light – I’ve been noting that for a few months now. I hope that full year YoY totals break 5% or even 10% growth.

This summer’s gas prices will be lower than 2014 and new models are not yet here. So, I doubt we see a whole lot of growth until 2016.

Tesla needs to deliver a lot of the reserved X’s in 2015 to get a decent level of growth.

I believe we will see the “Hockey Stick” type of growth when affordable 200 mile EVs become available. A range of 75-85 miles doesn’t work for most drivers, despite what the manufacturers claim. I’m holding off for Model 3 and I’m sure many others are as well.

The Model 3, Bolt, LEAF 2 and others can’t get here soon enough.

Most drivers don’t THINK a sub 100 mile EV will work for them, this is actually not the case. This is why many buyers are waiting on the new longer range cars and sales may take a hit for the next year or so… Do I want a 150-200 mile battery? Yes! Do I need one? No not really.

I don’t usually need one, apart from wishing I didn’t have to hypermile to my favorite beach, but the “oops, I forgot something”, or the big highway detour can be a challenge that a “reserve tank” might help with

Not saying that your use case won’t happen, but if you are in the oops scenario, will you actually turn back say, after you’ve left your home for 20 – 30 miles? Or even 5 – 10 miles? I ask this NOT because of the vehicles capability to make it to the location, but because of the additional time you will have to take for this “go home to get something” trip.

Assuming that this beach you are going is, say, 60 miles, you can still make it in the latter use case, but it also illustrate the point of importance in Quick Charge stations at many locations.

I hope that sales increase is the case, but honestly, I’m not sure about it.

World wide, yes. In the US, up to April, up by “just” 200 units.

Fleet sales of any brand can cover that 200 units easily. There are also 6 additional new vehicles, and 2 less (Honda Fit & Rav 4 EV), so net new 4 additional vehicles.

In fact, if without the crazy sales on the Spark and Fiat, sales actually decreased.

More problematic is that fewer incentives are actually available now, and in the future, compare to the future. Worst yet, despite what many supporters of Obama have hoped, there is still NO NEW or better incentive from the federal government at this point. In fact, some incentives are actually eliminated.

The headwind against EV sales is huge, I am afraid.

As more models have become available? I take it you live in California? In most of the states the plug-ins you can find now are the same ones you could find years ago: Tesla, LEAF, Volt, plus the more recent Energi models. Most of the other models aren’t available officially or otherwise. And of those which allegedly can be had in flyover country I can only wish you the best of luck trying to locate an FFE, i3, iMiev, or Smart EV. No, EV sales are down, period. Low gas prices? Certainly a contributor for low hybrid sales, but probably not EVs. I suspect the real problem is that the market for short-range BEVs and for short-EV-range PHEVs/EREVs is saturated. People who can make a LEAF or Volt work for their household and are willing to make the effort to do so have already bought or leased, for the most part. No, in order to get further market share they have to finally deliver mid-range battery range performance. That’s probably why news of the Bolt and LEAF 1.5 were “leaked” – to keep the market warm while they prep for the better battery versions.
The net addition of vehicles is due to the chart of InsideEV, and the fact that both Rav4 and Fit EVs were available only in California, so the playing ground is sort of leveled. I kind of disagree about market saturation, simply because there HAS to be over 1 million drivers that use their vehicles for commute purposes and light duty drives around town. I think that the reduction/elimination of incentives + lack of action in federal level (recall the $10K tax credit at the dealership, rather than the $7.5K reduction when filing taxes?) are 2 major factors, but there’s also another thing: All manufacturers are essentially advertising BEVs as a 2nd car. There’s the problem – not everyone – most don’t – needs a “new” 2nd car. Either they don’t need one, or they already have one. In both cases, they are looking at substantial losses in trading/selling their vehicles. Manufacturers may also advertise the BEVs as 2nd/commute cars due to the “low” range, only to have those that purchase/lease to find out that BEVs have become their primary vehicle. Anyhow, the question remains – why do I need to get a new car for commute purpose. See, that’s… Read more »

Anyone have any idea how many Leafs are sold in Georgia each month? I read an article about how GA Nissan dealerships have been wheeling and dealing Leafs in advance of the $5k GA rebate expiring 1 July.

GA is one headwind. So is Washington State and Louisiana losing their sales tax at 0% incentive.

& the Illinois governor killing the 10% msrp credit

The Texas legislation session ended yesterday apparently no extension, so the incentive in Texas ends in 3 weeks.

Affects mainly Leaf and Volt since effectively you cant get anything else in Texas anyway.

I don’t know about GA sales, but I see at least one every trip I make. I saw three siting at the same red light last week. I live in Atlanta suburb.


It’s nice to see an increase here over April’s numbers!

Well… It is true that lots of the other cars are soaking up demand for LEAF and while that is true it is also true that for the other cars then DCFC infrastructure isn’t ready for prime time.
It would serve Nissan to promote their advantage in DCFC infrastructure via the already installed network on the west coast, CHAdeMO. The advantage that they and Mitsubishi and Kia have should be promoted… maybe even jointly to by the CHAdeMO organization. This would help greatly with the market perceptions of the limits of the cars they sell. WIth these in the field “range extenders”, range anxiety fades away more quickly. Try some ads on You Tube first… and if they work… run them on TV and Radio… that plus the upcoming 2016 info should perk things up soon,

Only two or three new quick chargers have been opened up in the United States in the last ten weeks. Also most of the quick chargers have been built around in rings around major cities not along major highways between cities. The whole quick charger build out idea has turned into a train wreak.

Also I think the number of quick chargers is now declining. The reason why is that I’ve seen a lot of Blink Quick chargers on plug share get downgraded from level three three to level 2 which means I think they should remove them off of the yellow status.

DCFC infrastructure requirement is over rated. An 80mi range EV is more than adequate for the vast majority of folk’s daily travel. (As long as that 80mi can be done all year long.)

I have never had the desire to charge away from my home and a lot of other people have same mind set. (2014 ELR).

Since this infrastructure is not very well controlled and has no on-site personnel watching over it, I see a load of vandalism and broken equipment in our future. I’m very surprised that Tesla’s SC network hasn’t been tapped by copper thieves thus far.

No offense, but of course an ELR driver would be of a different mindset than a Leaf driver. There is a psychological “comfort” effect of knowing that quick chargers are available – even if you never use them. The ELR accomplishes this safety net in the same way as the Volt – via an on-board generator. You have your “quick charge” network via the gas station on every corner.

My point is about the build out of this infrastructure and it’s security.

– They are owned by start-ups that could go under at any moment.
– There is no on-site personnel and security like a traditional fueling station.
– Sparse population of units leaves them open to being inoperable units that could sit for days without being serviced.

Dependency on this weak infrastructure for daily driving is just nuts. I can see easily being stranded than being comforted.

Who wants to charge every time they stop? My time is worth more than that and my on-board equipment could be damaged by a vandalized or inoperable unit.

A car needs to support me not the other way around. If I can’t do my daily travel without hassles, I get a different car.

I’m not worried about the charging stations being vandalized. The reason is they are like ground mounted transformers from the power company. The quick chargers are at the same risk of being vandalized by copper thieves like the ground mounted transformers.

You can go snip off the charge cord with zero chance of electrocution.

Never underestimate the determination and skills of a thief. Near me, copper thieves are constantly stealing the copper cables that power the 625 volt third rails for the NYC subway and the Long Island Railroad commuter trains.

More reasons for high-power wireless charging. (Or that robotic snake charging cord). 😀

“…my on-board equipment could be damaged by a vandalized or inoperable unit.”

Good grief, what a perfect example of FUD.

You might as well worry about vandalism at self-service gas stations which have no attendant at night. Gosh, what if a vandal sets fire to it while you’re not looking?

Sounds like you’d better stay at home, and brick up your door so the outside world can never intrude. Venturing outside could be dangerous!

::rolling eyes::

I have no idea if Superchargers use heavy copper cables or not. Aluminum is almost as conductive, is far cheaper, and can carry the same current with only a moderate increase in cross-section.

Well in most places, by law you DO have to have a station attendant for self serve gas stations whenever they are open, for security as well as safety reasons.

Equipment security and personal safety will become an issue for the less desirable charging station locations.

That’s why EV charging will be dominated by:
– Battery sized to comfortably cover almost all daily driving needs
– Overnight charging at home for daily needs
– Secured highway quick charge stations for long trips
– A few destination chargers in some strategic commercial locations (hotels, attractions, big box stores…)

I just can’t see the L2 charging chains surviving.

In May I saw a used Leaf drop into the $6000’s and $7000’s that has opened the door to me owning one. The only trouble is that no new Quick chargers have opened up anywhere in the last eight weeks making it almost impossible to drive the cheap leaf home. Another problem I’m having is my family has severe range anxiety and they are telling me not to get one. Lately I have been suffering range depression from this. In that I was hoping a massive build out of quick chargers should solve this. Such as if there was a quick charger at every highway exit or at least at every major shopping mall in my area it would add plenty of support infrastructure. Personally I think the low range leaf will keep declining in demand. The leaf’s rate of decline will keep on declining even in June and July. I also feel that if they only add 20 extra miles to the existing 80 mile range leaf’s range that will not help it’s sales that much. It might raise sales 10% to 25% but it will not make it main stream based off of my family’s range anxiety. A… Read more »

1 major problem, imho, is that the charging station business is a money losing business, and pretty much being run by mostly start up companies at this point.

PUC needs to take over, but is currently met with huge opposition from these start-ups.

If Nissan is to start building its own network (not dealer based), LEAF prices will surge significantly 🙁

So a deadlock.

Currently, Nissan is really the only one who promotes a nationwide Chademo charging network, too 🙁

Mainstream? No. But Nissan could pop sales back up to the ~30k number in 2016 with a 30kWh battery. It would mostly be stealing sales back from the other “city BEVs” though.

Look for the 2017 to bring the Leaf the next step closer to “mainstream” or “early majority” (i.e. the “early adopters” – we are currently in the “innovators” stage).

Re-reading my comment, it may not be clear what I was trying to say.

Using the referenced technology adoption model, we are currently in the “innovators” stage. A 30kWh Leaf will not change that, although it will probably steal sales back from their competitors.

The next step is the “early adopters” stage. We are not there yet. I think it will be the next generation that gets us there – Leaf 2.0, Bolt, Model III and Volt 2.0. By the end of the decade, EVs should be solidly in this phase.

The “early majority” stage – which in my mind is the same as the “mainstream” that is tossed around here – will not come until the third generation. By 2025, there will be a plug-in offered in every category of car, across multiple price ranges. Much of the infrastructure problems will likely have been shaken out and resolved. EVs will be generally accepted by the public as a true alternative – they will have “made it” to the big time.

Brian, I appreciate your comments, but I suggest you drop the references to Roger’s bell curve. I’ve never seen the “early adopter” period described as including more than a 10% penetration of the entire market.

It’s generally said that the EV revolution is now in the “early adopter” stage. Using terminology contrary to common use arbitrarily assigned by some guy named “Roger” just confuses the conversation.

* * * * *
Quoting Google:

ear·ly a·dopt·er

a person who starts using a product or technology as soon as it becomes available.

I like this chart better. Just apply it to all plug-ins. I don’t think we’ve reached the chasm yet. Need more butts in seats. Word seems to be spreading making plug-ins less weird.

That’s a pretty good representation.

But I’m guessing YOU added that extra category on the right hand side! Nice touch!

I was simply using his curve to be more precise in my wording. The model is imperfect, but decent. And refering to it lets us speak the same language. So no, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to reference it.

Ocean Railroader said:

“…my family has severe range anxiety and they are telling me not to get one. Lately I have been suffering range depression from this.”

I presume you’re joking.

I’m not kidding my parents and brother are worried about the car running out of range. They even said if your car runs out of power on the side of Interstate 95 we are not going to pick you up. Also today I found out news that I might be possibility getting a job in a city 45 miles away from home which means I will have a 90 mile commute for a while. The only thing on my side is a new quick charger opened up a few miles near the job but I don’t know if it works or not. And to make this story stranger I’m planning on working on a presentation to the city government to make the city more EV friendly for the job interview. The idea is that people in EV’s needing to charge up can park near the city’s museums and restaurants and visit the attractions while they charge up at level two and level 3 quick chargers. The only thing right now that can save my EV dream from range depression is a battery upgrade that can rise the range of a Leaf or i-miev to over a 120 miles for under… Read more »

I base my plans off of their being no massive quick charger build out happening or massive battery range raise. But I hope Nissan really does raise the power of their cells.

spotted one funny typo “in expensive” (the space) 🙂

Otherwise crossing fingers for that 30KWh battery to pan out sooner rather than later.

Low gas prices look like they’re having an effect. Hard to ignore it.

Who wants to wait around for 30 mins to get an 80% charge of 80 miles ? 64 miles in 30 mins is hardly worth the bother, hence I bought the Outlander PHEV, hopefully a 200 mile affordable EV should be ready in 3 years time when I get my next car and can finally stop using gas altogether.

There are a lot of places on semi long trips were I’m going to drive a 180 miles in one were it wouldn’t really mater. Such as there is this one trip I take to my favorite amusement park every few weeks that’s 90 miles one day to it.

They have quick chargers along the route. But I really wish they would put a quick charger at this one BOQ place I go to on the way there or at this one shopping mall I sometimes stop at on the way back from there.

Those who don’t need the full 80% charge.

Those who aren’t charging from empty.

Those who need to leave their vehicles at the charging stations for quick shopping needs.

Those who aren’t driving daily long trips that will deplete their charges to 0%.

Those who believe in using 0 gasoline.

I guess that there are still a whole more than I can think of.

Those who form less than 1% of the car market I guess !

I’m sorry, maybe I misunderstood your question regarding “who wants to…”

Because I don’t know if anyone “wants to form” a certain percentage of the market, since forming a percentage is not something someone “want.”

In fact, the said statement of yours makes no sense.

I do know 1 thing, for Nissan, ev sales are more than 1% of their car sales.

I think Tesla’s SC speed is at about what I’m willing to wait if I need to stop, then keep going on a long trip. So ~ 170 miles in 30 minutes, or 215 miles in 40 minutes.

As I’ve been saying, the evidence strongly points to 2015 Leaf production having been stopped, or nearly so. I regularly check the inventory figures, and over the last 3 to 4 months the number of Leafs at US dealerships has dropped by just short of 1,000.

I think the next few months, with the Volt 2.0 and the Leaf 1.5 (I consider the 2013 the first year of the Leaf 1.1) looming, we’ll see some quite entertaining things in sales numbers, promotions, news coverage, etc.

Fasten your seat belts, kids, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

If we are lucky Nissan will surprise us with the existing leaf getting a 40 to 50 raise in range by using new energy dense batteries. They might do this to avoid the Kia Soul with it’s 100 mile range becoming a major competitor.

Good thing for Nissan that Kia is treating the Soul EV like a true compliance car, restricting the markets it is sold in.

Lou Grinzo said:

“…with the Volt 2.0 and the Leaf 1.5 (I consider the 2013 the first year of the Leaf 1.1) looming, we’ll see some quite entertaining things in sales numbers, promotions, news coverage, etc.”

I have been quite surprised that Chevrolet didn’t cut back the production of the current Volt much more sharply than it did. If I was an auto dealer, I certainly wouldn’t have ordered many of them. I wonder just how much they’re gonna have to discount the remaining current Volts, with everybody anticipating the new Volt 2.0 coming this fall? Probably quite a bit! That’s not the way an auto maker makes money.

Hmmm… the article is all about how Leaf are consistently down every month this year, yet the headline says “Leaf US Sales [are] up…”

Cognitive dissonance? Or just an editor who decided to give the article a headline completely disconnected from the thrust of the article?

LEAF is facing what Volt faced 2 years ago…

1. More competitions in terms of choices, power/style/capacity…

2. Incentives are slowly eroding.

3. Aging chassis in a fast moving EV world.

4. Future product improvement rumors.

5. Lower Perceived gasoline cost.

Some of those applies to gasoline models as well.

The Leaf is running out of people who feel safe with a 80 miles of battery. Or people who live in quick charger hot zones were their is a working DC Quick charger every square mile.

As the range of the leaf goes up more and more people will be able to use it.

Every time I charged at a Nissan dealer in May I was told by a sales rep about the amazing lease deals Nissan was running – over $12k cash on a model SL. They were obviously incented to push it. I’ve also noticed that in our state, at least, the dealers are suddenly much more welcoming of LEAFers who drop by to charge – some really role out the red carpet and many now actively protect the charging spots from ICEing. What I’m saying is that this bump up in sales is certainly due to a big push from corporate, and given the size of the push the bump up is not encouraging. Furthermore, I suspect a large percentage if not most of the new sales/leases were to repeat LEAFers. As I posted elsewhere, I’m going to suggest that the market for short-range BEVs is saturated. Maybe you’ll get a few more LEAFers here and there, but if you a) are predisposed to like EVs and thus willing to go the extra mile to make it work for you, and b) can get by with a short-range car, and c) can afford it, then you probably already have a LEAF… Read more »