Nissan Needs More LEAFs – Now Says It Will Take To “Late Fall” To Catch Up To Demand

JUL 15 2013 BY JAY COLE 30

Nissan Faces Some Expected Challenges With The 2013 LEAF

Nissan Faces Some Expected Challenges With The 2013 LEAF

It is no secret to anyone watching the sales of plug-in vehicles recently that the introduction of the 2013 lineup of LEAFs, starting with the all-new entry level “S” model from $28,800, has turned around the EV fortunes of Nissan.

2013 Nissan LEAF Stops For A Quick Charge In Japan - Nissan Has No Plans To Re-Direct Production From Their Oppama Plant To The US

2013 Nissan LEAF Stops For A Quick Charge In Japan – Nissan Has No Plans To Re-Direct Production From Their Oppama Plant To The US

Nissan has consistently sold over 2,000 units a month since the 2013s went on sale in March of this year.  Brendan Jones, who is director of EV infrastructure strategy for Nissan, has even come out and said sales will move even higher this summer.

How can he be sure of that?  Because Nissan is still have trouble fulfilling customer (and dealer) demand.

According to Automotive News, Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle sales and marketing,  recently left his office to take a trip to Texas to tell dealers in person that Nissan was working on the problem.

“They really want more Leafs in Dallas.  I assured them that  we’re doing everything we can to get them more inventory. But it’s taking some  time.”

Rather than fully commit to maximizing their US Smyrna production facility, that ‘can’ produce up to 150,000 LEAFs per year, Nissan chose to take a more conservative road after only managing to sell 9,819 LEAFs in 2012.

CEO Carols Ghosn said the following just as production was getting underway in the US:

“We have created the capacity, but have not installed all the equipment.  We have been more prudent.  We built the building, we put the infrastructure, we built the project, but we are installing the equipment in function of the evolution of sales.

So it is not that we are having all this equipment and it is being idled, we are in fact just building the infrastructure for that, and we are going step by step.”

Nissan Says It Will Now Take Until "Late Fall" To Catch Up To Demand

Nissan Says It Will Now Take Until “Late Fall” To Catch Up To Demand

Although hesitant to make predictions on US electric vehicle sales at the start of this year, Nissan said they would be satisfied selling about 15,000 LEAFs in America for 2013.

With the 8,536 units already sold in the first 4 months the 2013 LEAF and still coming up short fulfilling demand, Nissan has been caught unprepared.

“We’re going to be short on inventory all through the summer,” Gottfried says  he has been telling dealers. “It will be late fall before we can produce enough  to satisfy everybody.”

LEAF Takes In The Sights...And A Charge

LEAF Takes In The Sights…And A Charge

In speaking with Auto News, Gottfried says that the geography of  the Leaf’s market has broadened. What once was only sought after in “green” areas on the West Coast and pockets in the east, has changed into national demand, with the Nissan exec highlighting new hot spots in “Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago and Raleigh, N.C.”

“Not every dealer has pursued selling the Leaf yet.  But  what we’ve seen lately is that one dealer in a city will start marketing the car  and have great success with it. Then the other dealers in the market will  realize there’s a real opportunity and start marketing it, too.”

To illustrate the changing trend, and the wider acceptance of the LEAF, in California – which once boasted more than 50% of all LEAF sales in the US, and fell to 37% in 2012, is now 27% for 2013 due to rising interest in other markets.

Automotive News (sub)

Categories: Nissan

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30 Comments on "Nissan Needs More LEAFs – Now Says It Will Take To “Late Fall” To Catch Up To Demand"

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So does this mean Canadians will have to wait beyond the end of July to have our Leafs available? (2013 models).

Has anyone heard anything about 2014 models for Canada? I mean are 2013s going to actually arrive soon and then 2014 models in November ? Kind of confusing…

Hey Tim, AFAIK 2013 LEAFs should still be rolling into Canada at the end of this month. You are not going to see 2014s until, well probably later Q1 2014…which is a little odd. I wouldn’t worry about it…or wait on them if I was you.

Due to the late start for the 2013s in Smyrna, 2014 MY switchover is not going to happen until September (something that normally happens in early summer)…so you are looking at a US drop maybe happening sometime in early December. Looks like a 16-20 week lead time on orders from the factory atm. /ouch

I have to wonder if Nissan isn’t planning on really ramping things up until the ’14 MY LEAFs start rolling out given the timing?

Sounds like a good problem to have.

How does this compare with Focus EV demand?

Should GM expand the Spark EV to more states, or is the smaller size a limiting factor for demand?

I proffer that if the Spark EV sells in a volume in CA and Oregon that satisfies the requirements of the Zero EV mandate, that GM will expand next year into other markets.

It’s best for GM to stagger the rollout of the spark to ensure initial quality and dealer issues are perfected and then expand the geographic availability.

Its still rare to see a Leaf around here in Ft.Worth. And I have still not seen a 2013 on the roads. When I do see a Leaf it is a 2011/2012 model. Which is pretty sad considering we have decent fast charging infrastructure around here.

The 2012 vs. 2013 difference is more about L2 charging rate (if you don’t by the cheaper 2013 S) than about fast-charging. We have a 2012 with fast-charging – never used it, btw – but 6.6 kW L2 charging is not available on the 2012. In any case, for >95% of Leaf drivers fast-charging is more of a psychological insurance for unplanned contingencies, than a routine useful capability. The Leaf is not a road-trip vehicle unless you are trying to make a point and willing to spend the extra time doing that. If you go on a day trip close to the end of its range, then an L2 charger at your destination should suffice to fill you up for the ride back. Especially with 6.6kW which would do it in 3 hours or less. Anyway, looking forward to Dallas-Ft. Worth region filling up with 2013 Leafs! Do badger those dealers, it does make a difference. Here in Seattle two dealers started the “Leaf wars” over a year ago, marketing it as a flagship car rather than nuisance and offering $99/month leases. We bought ours in a smaller out-of-the-way dealership that was happy to beat their offers and get part… Read more »
@Assaf, glad you’ve got a Leaf, but please don’t assume that just because you use it a certain way (never QC), others must be doing the exact same. It’s just not the case. I anything, my experience is exactly the opposite of yours. Most of my charges away from home, or ALL of them if I exclude the infrequent not-really-needed “opportunity charge” from a free L2, were from L3/quick-charge stations. I think that public L2 is not just too slow, alone it’s not dependable enough: what do you do if you arrive at destination and notice that the EVSEs you were counting on are all busy or otherwise unavailable? Wait a couple hours hoping someone will leave? Drive somewhere else and wait there? I couldn’t care less for faster L2 (6.6 vs 3.3 kW), but like Josh below, I have found QC to be a must for what I’ve been doing with my Leaf. It would otherwise be capped to 70-some miles/day maximum, and therefore much less useful. In my book, stopping 5 minutes at a quick-charger totally beats blowing $10+ in gas (doing the same 80~90 miles with an ICE), or asking the friend I visit to move his… Read more »

Dallas has far more L2 chargers than Ft. Worth, though we only have a few quick charge stations. Even here in Dallas, I rarely see LEAFs on the road. My co-worker has seen a Tesla Model S on the road, but I haven’t. There are a few Volts around, and I’ve seen 2 other i-MiEVs but that’s it.

Aaron,

I think I commented before but eVgo has 23 DCQCs in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area that would make any CHAdeMO capable vehicle very useful for high mileage drivers in the region. That is really all the public charging infrastructure a LEAF driver needs assuming home charging is available.

And for those not from Texas, crisscrossing across Texas cities may seem like road trips to others. For example, the Dallas metro area covers 9300 square miles, larger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas–Fort_Worth_metroplex

23 QCs is really good. That is better than what we have in the northwest.

Have never been to Dallas-Ft. Worth except its airport, but lived in Albuquerque which is similarly spread-out.

With a 2013 Leaf (or the new batch of sub-compacts coming out this summer – Spark, 500e, etc.), you can easily handle a 55-mile one way commute if you have an L2 charger at (or near) work. With only trickle-charge (regular 110v socket) at work, you can do around a 40-mile one way commute. With only home charging, 30 miles one-way would be the max.

I assume worst-case conditions (using the AC all the time) and charging only to 80% as most manufacturers recommend for daily use.

If you base your daily commute on stopping at a QC port on your way every day, you will wear out both yourself and your battery very quickly. Even “quick charge” is about half an hour to sit around and wait.

IMHO the key to leveraging and extending your daily EV experience is charging at work, and the occasional L2 at your shopping center. Not quick-charge, at least not at the current state of technology.

“IMHO the key to leveraging and extending your daily EV experience is …”

Let me amend that. IMHO the key to leveraging and extending your daily EV experience is to lease the car and not worry about battery degradation.

60 miles of commute is easy in most circumstances, with only home charging.

I and most EV users agree: the vast majority of us have leased our EVs.

Just curious, again, do you have any numbers or sources to support your assertions?

Re quick-charging: from the PIA survey and the experience of “80k Leaf” Steve March, frequent QC seems to have little effect on battery life, at least much less than climate.

PS: I bought, and quick-charge whenever I need.

In my use case, I have a 66 mile commute which I can handle with my overnight charge. If I have to drive more than the normal round trip, a 10 minute stop at QC is usually all I need. They are located at grocery stores, so I would typically pick up food for dinner at the same time. I use them 2 – 3 times per week. Often it is on the weekends when my driving usage is very unpredictable. I know others do not live in big cities like Houston and do not drive 15k – 20k miles per year, but for me the QCs are essential to the ownership experience. If I had to use L2 while at work, it would mean parking in a $25/day lot, plus paying for the charging session, as opposed to parking for free at my employers lot. My attempts at getting building management to install any type charging in the parking garage were unsuccessful. The QCs around town give me the confidence that no matter what comes up, I never have to worry about sitting around for hours waiting to get enough juice to get home. I was in that position… Read more »

Thanks for sharing. You have opened my eyes to a valid need scenario for QC. It’s amazing how diverse the needs spectrum is, and different charging tools are relevant to different corners of it.

Yes, it’s the weekends which are the wild card. The only two times in 10 months that we got close to running out were Saturdays (both times precipitated by starting the day at only 80%, and both times solved by some trickle-charging during the day’s last event, so no time lost). But then, we commute almost exclusively by bus so our Leaf is used mostly after-hours and on weekends.

So, how many miles a month does your Leaf rack up?

1600 – 1700 miles per month (19.5k / year) was my regular usage until April of this year. I have luckily improved my work situation, which allows me to work from home primarily with some out of town travel (flying). It is nice to not commute 2 – 3 hours a day.

This also will keep me closer to the 45k miles included in my lease when it expires next June. My wife now drives the LEAF for her short commute to work (12 miles) on days that I do not have to visit clients in Houston. We still use it for all of our weekend travel within the city. So I would guess our new usage will probably be 500 – 700 miles / month.

This sounds like more marketing than anything. Daily inventory has been consistent at about 2,500 units with local inventory filling weekly. So on any given day they have over a months supply.

It seems Nissan is set to hold current production until 4th Qtr, to see how well the new lower priced Chevy Spark EV does, along with the lower priced 2014 Focus Electric. It’s much better to have production constraints, than to have too much production and have to idle the plant for real demand to catch up.

We really have had a shortage of Leafs in Texas. My local dealer has been totally out for several months. I talked them the other day when getting my software update done. They said they rarely get sent any Leafs by Nissan and they are usually gone within a day or two. They also said they have never seen one of these mythical S-model Leafs and have no idea when they might actually receive one.

I suspect Nissan is trying to keep dealers on the West coast stocked up, at the expense of places like Texas.

No – one month inventory is just not enough. One month inventory basically translates to customers not finding the trim/color/options they really want. So they either have to wait or buy something they don’t want or buy a different car.

Hopefully they will trained those dealers. I am tired of walking to dealerships and knowing more than the salesman, and being told wrong info. I am particularity concerned about the states where anything green has been politicized.

Yeay. I’ve had a dealer (not Nissan) tell me that ‘psst, don’t tell this to anyone, but only 30% of the battery capacity is actually used’. Yeah, sure.

In manufacturing this is known as ramping production. For many reasons, it is physically impossible to get a new factory into gear immediately with its 100% capacity output.

I worked at Intel in its first Kiryat Gat plant (Israel), when it opened in fall 1999. It was mid-2000 before we reached the full target capacity. And we were on track and on or ahead of schedule all the time.

Sounds like a somewhat conservative planned ramp (after 2012’s numbers and the continual mainstream press vibe of “EVs are irrelevant toys”, they cannot be blamed), coupled with falling somewhat behind schedule compared to plans. But I’d say we should trust their current projections give or take a couple of months.

I left out the most salient detail: the ramp means that your actual output capacity (rather than final target one) increases gradually over at least several months.

@Assaf: Not to mention religious zealots that say we don’t need to conserve our natural resources — God is going to take us away before they run out. Seriously. I’ve heard that from 3 people here in Dallas. Ugh…

You can’t have an intelligent arguement about science with someone who uses “magical thinking” as Bill Maher puts it.

Yes, I’ve encountered that argument many times. I usually just mention that “people have been saying the rapture is less than 10 years away” for the last 2,000 years. Hasn’t happened yet. (almost reminds me of fuel cells! haha)

Wow, poor you guys. Around here the worst I get is raised eyebrows and questions that boil down to “…so, these golf carts are for real?…” but generally people are quite supportive yet woefully under-informed.

Anyway, as the article states right now demand for the Leaf (and the Fit EV, and the 500e, and the Tesla S, and…) exceeds supply, so carmakers just need to continue ramping up.

It sounds like that they should at least start making 3000 to 4000 leafs a month by this fall. It also sounds like most likely that July might set a new record for sales of the Nissan Leaf at least with a 25% chance that it might break the big 3000 in the number of cars sold in a month.