Will They Ever Come Back? Nissan LEAF Sales Stay Depressed In March

APR 1 2016 BY JAY COLE 53

US Consumers Are Looking For Nissan (and its CEO Carloes Ghosn) To Announced Plans For the 2nd Generation LEAF, While The Rest Of The World Says They Can't Wait A Bit Longer

What? I don’t see anything behind me, the 2016 LEAF is A-OK” – US Consumers Are Looking For Nissan (and its CEO Carlos Ghosn) To Acknowledge And Introduce The 2nd Generation LEAF

That story of the upgraded 2016 edition of the Nissan LEAF seems to have split into two stories.

2016 Looks To Be A Big Bounce Back Year For The 107 Mile Nissan LEAF. 2015? Well, let's not talk about that.

2016 Looks To Be A Big Bounce Back Year For The 107 Mile Nissan LEAF. 2015? Well, let’s not talk about that.

The first being the success of the car in Europe and Japan, and secondly the calls of  “hey, the 2016 LEAF isn’t quite good enough, make with the next generation already” in the United States.

For March, Nissan sold 1,245 copies in the US, which was another down month – some 31% versus the 1,817 sold in 2015.

By missing a year ago’s result, the Nissan LEAF also gave up the all-time plug-in sales lead in the US to the Chevrolet Volt (92,522 for the LEAF/92,737 for the Volt).

Meanwhile in Europe, the 2016 LEAF was up some ~90% during February, and has set new all-time records in Japan.

During the first 2 months of 2016, the new LEAF has sold as many copies in Japan as the 9 months of the year prior with the older 24 kWh model (5,322 in 2016 vs 5,212 from April to December 2015).

However for the United States, a market currently being saturated with news of the 200 mile Chevrolet Bolt EV‘s arrival this Fall, and the recent debut of the Tesla Model 3 (full specs/launch video here)Americans collectively have ignored Nissan’s 107 mile offering for the most part.

The Debut Of The Tesla Model 3 Will Only Hinder Current Nissan LEAF Sales Further In 2016

The Debut Of The Tesla Model 3 Will Only Hinder Current Nissan LEAF Sales Further In 2016

Unlike a car like the Chevrolet Volt in the US, or the Volkswagen GTE in Europe, the Nissan LEAF is a global offering – so while Americans may point to domestic sales as a reason for the company accelerate plans for the next generation LEAF (currently estimated to arrive in the Spring of 2017), Nissan is likely more than happy with the upgraded 30 kWh car’s reception elsewhere (and the ~6,000 odd sold in February), and is content to continue the wind-down tour of the 1st generation LEAF, as originally planned.

Nissan LEAF Sales In The US Have Not Improved With The Introduction Of The New 107-Mile 2016 Edition

Nissan LEAF Sales In The US (Thru 02/16) Have Not Improved With The Introduction Of The New 107-Mile 2016 Edition

Looking at the inventory situation in the US, where we once thought their might be an allocation/production story unfolding with the upgraded LEAF that appears less and less likely now with 3.5 months of availability now under its belt.  The most obvious answer to the inventory situation is a stagnate uptake by dealers (holding some ~2,000 30 kWh copies and ~1,500 base 24 kWh models on average during March).

Nissan "Don't Call Me A Twizy" New Mobility Concept Hit New York This Month

Nissan “Don’t Call Me A Twizy” New Mobility Concept Hit New York This Month

Separately this month with Nissan and the LEAF:

*-CEO Carlos Ghosn weighed in on electric vehicles being the only viable solution to climate change from New York (details)

*-Nissan pulled the LEAF from New Zealand citing bad economic realities for EV tech (and in our opinion, the influx of super-cheap used LEAFs from Japan)

*-Nissan revealed the “Fuel Station” of the Future (again)

*-47,538 Leafs were recalled for a software update to fix braking performance in extreme cold temperatures (details)




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53 Comments on "Will They Ever Come Back? Nissan LEAF Sales Stay Depressed In March"

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I talked to a lot of people yesterday waiting in line with me to place a reservation for a Tesla Model 3. And a surprising number of them were LEAF owners. The original LEAF was an amazing vehicle for it’s day. But it’s day is just about done.

If I’m a Nissan stockholder, I wouldn’t be very happy that Nissan management squandered a 6 year lead in EVs and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, solve their battery range limitation problems. They have completely ignored what their early adopters have been telling them about poor battery performance.

Really? The battery has been improved several times in those six years. And the max range has been bumped up 2-3 times (depending if you count the small tweaks between the 2013 and 2014). Progress in this area is obviously fast, but the Leaf is available today as a 110-mile vehicle with a significantly more reliable battery than the 76-mile 2011s, and the Bolt/Model 3 are at about 1 and probably 2 years away respectively. Their only (possible) mistake was not announcing the 2017 specs sooner (rumors make it seem competitive with the Bolt), and even that’s a clear decision given that they’d be cannibalizing their current sales.

It’s easy to tease a car 1-2 years out when you don’t currently offer anything in the class.

The Bolt is going to be on dealer lots in right around 7 months, which is going to be here very soon. Nissan has consistently been a year or two late with their improvements, and it is beginning to show as their Leaf sales are tanking.
If they had brought out the 30 kWh Leaf a year ago, just 9 months earlier than they did, they may have been able to get a sales surge. Now the Bolt is 2 seasons away and the III is less than 2 years out. Even though the new lizard pack is better than the original pack, there are a lot of bitter Leaf owners who are looking at the Bolt or putting in reservations on the III.

What do you care if the bolt is 2 seasons away????? everyone is going to wait for the model 3 ain’t you? I’ve got a new brilliant idea. Why don’t we all wait for the new shiny imperial super destroyer Tesla is going to build in 5 years?? LOL

It doesn’t have to be Bolt or Model 3.

The Bolt will come early enough you could lease a bolt for 2 years then when Tesla invite you to configure your Model 3 you either 1. Buy out the Bolt Lease and keep it, or turn in the Bolt and take delivery of your Model 3.

I don’t want to wait for the III, so I may get a Bolt lease then buy a III when they are available on the east coast.

I would imagine that 107 miles is far more than adequate in Europe and Japan. It’s like they have Chademo stations on every street corner. The USA is a very different story with people wanting interstate travel and the complete lack of charging infrastructure.

Nah. It’s the same here. The range is to short to be anything but a second rate car. It’s just that the bolt is not sold and the other alternative is reserved for the well off.

It depends where you live, it is great for smaller countries like Denmark, Estonia, Netherlands but for Germany, France the distances are too big. But when you only drive in the city and suburbs pretty much any EV will do!

With Fastned charging stations popping up all over the place, even the original 2011 LEAF is a usable car over here in my country.

The 30 kWh leaf with about 1.5x the range of the original model is very close to satisfying all my needs. I rarely drive more than 150 km on a single day and for those occasions I don’t mind waiting 25-30 min for a fast charge.

Leaf sales were badly hurt when the Georgia subsidy disappeared and they haven’t recovered. At this point they’re being hurt by the Volt (electric range is not all that difference than the base Leaf when you consider the buffer) as well as the expected release of the Bolt EV. Now add the Model 3 and people have reasons to either get a different vehicle or just wait.

My guess is that, until the next generation Leaf hits the market, sales are unlikely to perk up appreciably. This is not a huge issue for Nissan. Leaf sales are a minor part of the portfolio and Nissan doesn’t need the emission credits.

Not only did they remove the purchase incentive, they introduced a _$200_ annual fee. Yes, $200. At 50mpg, a Prius owner would be able to travel _20,234 miles_ paying the same amount in gasoline taxes.

Total bunch of asses.

Yup, it’s all about the money. Special interest groups and money politics suck.

It’s only going to get worse when there are more EVs on the road. Loss of gasoline tax will force new taxes for EVs to pay for road works. The only question is how much? The proposed fees nail an EV with a SUV-like penalty.

The thing is, gas taxes haven’t increased since the 1990’s. Why not fair to early EV adopters, a flat fee is probably the way to go and setting these higher initially makes sense, so long as it is not so high that you deter adoption of NEVs

Love our 2013 leased Leaf but we are returning it in a couple months at end of lease, not because of the car but because of the battery. Two capacity bars gone at less than 22K miles of gentle use. When they make a 200+ mile range Leaf and have active thermal management for the battery, I’ll consider coming back. For the interim, we’ve leased a Spark EV for basically zero net cost and put a deposit on a Model III, and we’ll be watching the Bolt closely. There’s a part of me that just wants to yell at Nissan, “It’s the battery, stupid!”

John said:

“There’s a part of me that just wants to yell at Nissan, ‘It’s the battery, stupid!’ ”

Well said, sir.

The question in my mind isn’t why the latest Leaf isn’t selling well in the USA. With its quarter-of-a-loaf improvement in EV range, and with Nissan still refusing to use active thermal management for the battery pack, the answer seems to be pretty obvious. “It’s the battery, stupid!” sums it up pretty well, and the “nerd-mobile” styling doesn’t help with American buyers, either.

What I don’t understand is why it continues to sell so well in Japan and Europe. They don’t anticipate the Bolt… er, “Ampera-e”… selling many in Europe, and in Japan not at all. So I suppose that’s at least a small part of it.

The issue isn’t so much active thermal management (or the lack thereof) but the fact Nissan had to be dragged through a class action lawsuit to stand by their product.

Not treating their early adopters like honored guests and simply replacing batteries without any fuss, will come back to bite them time and again. Regaining lost trust will cost them US sales for many years.

Its a tragedy. They were first out of the gate, the LEAF is a very reliable car, much more reliable than a model S for instance. Where it falls down is durability.

Nissan may think that losing 50,000 or so early adopters is cheaper than keeping them happy. They underestimate the effect it will have on their sales when the next batch of 1st time EV buyers turn to those 50,000 for advice on which EV to buy. No surprises if the 50,000 put Nissan dead last.

That sounds like a bad battery. I am at 32k miles and drive in a cold climate, recharging daily six days/week, and so far no bars lost …knock on wood.

Bars are normally lost in hotter climates.

Leaf lacks a few things. First, cache – the unit is cute but does not have substance. It has a new 120 mile option but with 200+ mile cars on the short horizon, the basis of going EV in the first place, Leaf sales will be slowed by Bolt and Model 3.

Nissan hasn’t even brought the e-NV200 to the USA and that little van would do well in urban situations. Nissan isn’t serving the USA EV market well at all.
I would enjoy a 200-mile e-NV200 passenger van made in the USA. That would be nice. Won’t happen.

And the dealers who really don’t care or who do not stock or “show” the Leaf – they are a problem similar to GM dealers lacking support of Volt and I presume Bolt soon.


Nissan has not done enough to promote the 107 mile range of the new Leaf, and early sales were hampered by lease prices that spiked upward when it was first released.

In a single day yesterday, Tesla took 133,000 current and potential Leaf drivers out of contention.

That will deflate Leaf sales until Nissan comes out with a v2 that competes on the main features.

Time to get working on that Nissan 150kW QC network.


As I write this I am sure that the 180k reservations are approaching 200k quickly.

I am also sure that by the end of the year it will be 1 million. This translates to $42 Billion in sales. Nissan and others need to come up with a better car soon. It will be impossible though for any other manufacturer to build a battery factory so quickly. Tesla will rule for a long time.

Other manufacturers have plenty of access to batteries. When VW, BMW, Mercedes and Audi all come out with their EVs and Tesla runs out of federal incentives their dominance will erode.

*cough!* Sure it will….

Losing the full $7500 credit and only getting the $3750 credit for the following 6 months is going to be a big deal. Less so for the III because of the buzz that surrounds the Tesla brand, but it will have a negative impact on sales.

I seem to remember graphs comparing Tesla to the Model T Ford. If things go well enough (and they seem to doing so in spades), Tesla might well knock off the $7,500 themselves when the rebate runs out. After all, the Model T price fell quite a bit I believe.

As long as Tesla hits 200k sales around the same time that GM does, it won’t be an issue.

Once GM hits 200k, there’s no way Congress will allow Toyota/Honda/VW/etc. to continue to put $7500 of taxpayer money on the hood (effectively rewarding them for slacking) while America’s GM has to sell cars straight up.

Be assured that there will be a modification to the program, sunsetting the credit for all manufacturers.

Steve Morris said:

“Other manufacturers have plenty of access to batteries.”

Well, BYD and Nissan do, because they have built their own battery factories, as Tesla is in the process of doing. The other auto makers? Not so much. Relying on LG Chem means they get to fight over a limited supply.

It’s easy to tell which auto makers are serious about building compelling, long-range plug-in EVs in large numbers. There are only three companies in a position to do that.

“When VW, BMW, Mercedes and Audi all come out with their EVs and Tesla runs out of federal incentives their dominance will erode.”

Kinda hard to challenge Tesla’s dominance when they don’t have the batteries available to build even 15% of the number of long-range BEVs that Tesla (and BYD) will be building by 2020… and that’s even if the other auto makers wanted to build that many, which they don’t.

I don’t accept the premise that automakers need to integrate battery manufacturing. In the 20th century, GM and Ford didn’t build rubber factories or open their own iron quarries; they relied on the tire and metal industries for their materials.

When battery demand outstrips production capacity, LG Chem, Panasonic et al. will grow to meet that demand. If they are incapable of doing so, other companies will spring up to fill the need.

I’m leasing a 2015 Leaf and I just reserved the model 3 along with 135,000 other people.

Undoubtedly there are a good number of existing EV drivers jumping on board.

I have a 2013 lease (3 year – december) and I too put a deposit on a Model 3. The range is fine for around town — but for anything longer than 30 miles each way (especially if it means highway) I don’t take it since the battery is often at 10% or less and not worth the chance of getting stranded. Will not do the 107 mile version — just not enough of a boost. Thinking about doing a 2-year Volt lease to get me to the Model 3 timeline.

I also leased a 2013 Leaf, and was going to return it until Nissan offered me $7500 off the buyout price, meaning I could buy it for a bit more than $7500. It has about 47K and 12 bars (kept it in a cool garage during the summers). I’ll use it for local transportation for my family and drive our CMax Hybrid for trips until I decide to spring for a Model 3. My key criterion is whether a BEV can make the 600 mile trip to the grandparents in a reasonable time, charging included. Tesla’s superchargers make that possible.

Stop comparing Volt (half-ass) gas guzzler with a Leaf (all electric) zero emissions.

Point taken. The Volt is a much better car for the vast majority of car buyers.
Purista’s are part of the problem.

Most excellent point.
I would be delighted with a 90% drop in gas consumption now and then wait 5 years to get to 100% electric. Gives me time to add to my solar panel collection and further offset grid use.

The Bolt and the model 3 have rapidly made the LEAF obsolete. 100 miles of range was OK in 2013 but not in 2016 now that everyone is talking about 200+ mile cars. Nissan absolutely need to cut the price of the LEAF with $5000-$8000 to remain competitive. When the 200+ mile LEAF comes they can go back to today’s prices for that one.

One quibble. 215 miles of hwy AER would be very cool if you are roadtripping. Obviously 265 miles is way better, but for a $35k car to have 215 miles of hwy AER means that you can drive 65-70 mph for 2-2.5 hours, hit a 50 kW charge rate DC Fastcharger/SuperCharger for 40/20 minutes, respectively, and then drive another 2 hours or so.
That is pretty respectable, and part of it is due to the fact that having just a few more miles of range means that you don’t end up seeing your charge rate taper off before you get the miles of additional range you need. Once you get to 230 miles of AER you can roadtrip pretty easily, except in January and February.
Finally, it seems like BEV’s under $40k are nearing the point where they are full utility cars.

Nissan offered me a $7,500 discount off the residual on our lease if we choose to keep our 2013 Leaf, but I won’t be taking them up on it. We need something with more range than 65-70 miles, simple as that. I hope Nissan gets the message and comes out with the next gen Leaf soon with at least 200 miles range. They need it to stay in the game.

They should put that $7500 into a bigger battery pack instead, that would make it far easier to sell.

what we need in europe is a fiat or Opel or ford with a pricetag of about eur 15000 ,range ,350-450 km on one charge .
or do we have to wait for the russians to build one .A lada with 500 km range or something like that ????

That would be about a 65 kWh pack, say $8,000US on a $21,000US car. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I will probably buy a cheap used one to hold me after my i3 lease is up until the Model 3 comes out….

I would wonder if Leaf second generation is on market before the Model 3, after the Model 3 reveal Ghosn will be not happy. Even if next Leaf would have 230 miles range, Tesla has the supercharger.

I think the Leaf’s lack of active thermal management is a bigger obstacle to sales than lack of Supercharger access.

“It’s the battery, stupid!”

The technology is of minor importance. Its Nissan’s slowness and/or refusal or stand by their product that has resulted in the LEAF having the worst resale value of any car. No one trusts the brand.

Trust trumps technology.

Nissan can offer me a 200+ mile EV and claim they have solved the battery issues. I’m less inclined to believe them (regardless if its true or not) and will look elsewhere first.

Sounds like sour grapes. My guess is that you were an early adopter and now have issues that you want someone else to fix. I have a leased 2014 and have zero issues.

It sounds to me like you think the early adopters deserve to be punished.

Poor, and dishonest customer service.

First Nissan, Last Nissan.

200 is the new 100

If you have it, you are in. If you don’t have it, you are out.

@Nix : well said!

The 2017 Nissan Leaf should be 30 kw for the basic model and 36 kw for the SV, and 40 kw for the SL leaving the prices about the same as the 2016 models. And please do some cosmetic changes to the car appearance. Its ugly. Maybe a new nose job will be neccesary.

There are two issues at play here.

The first is the end of the Georgia EV credit. Leafs could be leased essentially for free there, as the rebate was just about equal to your total lease payments. Losing this (and having it replaced with a $200 EV operation fee!) is huge.

The second is the backend of everything that drove Leaf sales (and killed Volt sales) last year. In 2015, the Gen1 Volt had the Gen2 looming in the near distance, severely depressing sales. In 2016, not only does the Leaf have to deal with a potential next-gen upgrade, but there are two other major competitors that have been announced AND it doesn’t appear that even the Gen2 Leaf will be able to compete with those.