Nissan: Leaf Sales Lower Than Expected, But We're United Behind It

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2012 Nissan Leaf

2012 Nissan Leaf

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Electric cars may be the future, but in the present they're still a risk.

Nissan knows this more than most, and at a conference reporting its Q2 2012 financial results, chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga says that Nissan would still like to penetrate the market more.

However, he also expressed disappointment and frustration at media focus on tepid electric car sales.

For over a year now the Leaf has been outsold in the U.S. by its closest rival, the Chevrolet Volt, and worldwide the company has sold only 42,700 units.

Almost half of that total, 19,000 units, has been in Nissan's domestic market, Japan.

In the conference video, Toshiyuki-san explains that Nissan is still learning from the program.

"We are learning... why customers hesitate to buy an EV, and what are the issues they face after they buy one, and how satisfied customers are once they get into an electric vehicle."

Nissan wants the data it learns from Leaf drivers to improve the EV experience overall--using driving patterns to determine the most useful locations for quick chargers for example, and wants to pass that data on to companies that install quick chargers.

Shiga says that people may have different opinions on whether the Leaf is selling at the right pace or whether sales are too slow, but Nissan "would like to penetrate the market more."

"The entire company is united to promote the sales... please don't forget that we have this passion and a sense of mission to work on EVs."

Note: This article is revised from an earlier version of the story, to take account of more accurate sources.


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Comments (42)
  1. An ongoing problem is the dealers are not budging from MSRP on the Leaf. When I go to buy a car, I actually want to deal on the price to something lower than MSRP. No such luck with our local people.

  2. Glenn, go on the forum if you want information about buying/leasing. There are dealers that will go below MSRP, hopefully one near you.

  3. I am 100% behind them... and will be driving my 2013 Leaf in a few months. I believe that when production starts at the US plants and the prices come down... sales will start to move up. That said I also believe that nissan needs to increase (give the option to increase) the battery capacity. Even though most people do not go over 40 miles a day they need a safety blanket. with that the range anxiety will diminish and folks will feel 'safer' in driving a leaf. Many numbers have been thrown out there... but I think 140 miles is the magic number. If you use the A/C like I would having 140 miles per charge would probably go down to 120 which again I feel very comfortable with....

  4. I have been saying this for quite a while. I would like to see at least 100 actual miles and a $5K drop on the 2013 model. I think that would help LEAF sales a lot.

  5. I totally agree, it doesn't matter whether most days are 40 miles or less, people want the comfort of knowing they're free to go wherever they like. I think 300 miles is the ultimate range, but would be much happier to improve my Leaf's range to 140 rather than the 80ish miles it currently has. Congrats on getting a Leaf!

  6. attractive lease rates in the past few months spurring sales is pretty good indication that interest is there but the price point is a bit too high. Not all qualify for the full $7500 tax credit so maybe that needs to be changed first. also, the American made LEAF should drop in price. that will help a lot

  7. I bought a LEAF SL from a local San Diego dealer Oct. 6 through my credit union buying program. The MSRP was $38,410, which included optional splash guards, floor mats and destination charges. I paid $36,859 ($100 over dealer invoice). Dealer rep said Costco members get same deal. I have already received my $2500 CA EV rebate. As far as I know, there is no Adjusted Gross Income upper limit that would disqualify you for the full $7500 Federal tax credit. If someone doesn't receive the full amount, it would be because they didn't have enough tax liability for the credit to offset. It's not a refundable credit. You would have to owe at least $7500 in Federal income taxes to get the full amount.

  8. Make a cheaper, faster and longer range Leaf along with faster charger and better battery protection and warranty, people will line up to buy it..

  9. NISSAN is trying to renegotiate the terms of the Dept. of Energy Loan.
    The collateral for the 1.4 Billion is NOT backed by NISSAN it's a Rutherford County IDB bond for 2 Billion.

    Someone should do some research.

  10. The Leaf lease was $139 per month with a 2 year term if you lead BEFORE the election ... Now it's $249 with a 3 year term.

    The car cost about 80K to make and Mini EV leases were $850

    Too many taxpayer subsidies

  11. I don't buy the $80K cost estimate. It amortizes in the whole $5 billion development cost on a couple thousand Leafs. Most automotive experts and Nissan have said it's bogus.

  12. 48 modules per battery pack.... each module cost about 1 k.
    NOW if lots of Leafs are sold that price will come down.

    NISSAN is VERY secretive about the cost of the battery.... do research. You'll see that an EVP Andy Palmer said the battery modules would be about 700 each to replace... (still part of that could be subsidized) using his math then the battery modules alone would cost more that the cost of the car.... (after tax credit)

    Just do research.... quit reading the NISSAN propaganda.

    Ask NISSAN "how much" each battery really cost.
    I was told that realistically the cost to build is about 64K the extra 16K is marketing and the fluff. They spend a lot of money on test drives etc.

  13. I don't believe the $80k figure unless you believe that each Volt loses $49k. (of course, with the recent sales, it would be about $45k per car now according to the "fuzzy" math).

  14. Yes the VOLT loses money BUT the technology is better than the NISSAN Leaf and it takes time for new technology to "take off"
    the VOLT does not use expensive chargers like the ChaDeMo that is NOT not the standard. City attorneys have contacted my about the "song and dance" NISSAN presented them before they approved bonds to cover overpriced infrastructure that "most likely" is BETA technology...

  15. @Sharyn: Can you provide links for these various interesting assertions, please?

  16. Yes

    all my comments are connected to sources and publications.
    The link the article quoting NISSAN EVP Andy Palmer about the module price is now MIA.... Luckily I made copies of the article.
    Looks like I have another subpoena.

    I've posted cache copies of the Excessive IDB debt that was used as collateral.

    everything is documented.
    former NISSAN employees & current are VERY upset about what their company did. They fear they will lose their jobs - Darrell Issa's office in investigating- I personally gave documents to Geoff Grey at the IGO in January

  17. I posted a rely and NOW it's MISSING!!!

  18. “replacing a single module in the Leaf's 48-module battery pack would cost £404” (that’s 48K for JUST parts of the battery pack)” Andy Palmer Board Member NISSAN Motors.

    The link is NOW dead... I have copies.....
    Article keep getting pulled from the internet.
    I have LOTS of data. it's in a safe place.

    Federal Investigations are happening..

  19. There are more comments in this thread
  20. How does that relate to the current article and my comment?

    Nissan doesn't have the correct solution yet. I would have bought one if Leaf was cheaper, faster, have 100 mile range with 6.6KW charger and battery warranty that last 100k miles. But it doesn't.

  21. It relates because you are RIGHT if NISSAN had the capability to build an electric car with your wishes.. "cheaper...100mile range.." then people would "line up" to buy them.
    The fact is when they asked the American Congress for the money they "lied" and used technology from the 90's that was deemed a failure. I want the EV to succeed. People misinterpret me. I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid. I believe in Global Warming.

    Still I believe that a company that lies should NOT be rewarded. NOW other companies that can make the car YOU and I want won't get money because the people in DC won't trust anyone.

  22. Why do they silence the whistle blower who said they only took the Dept. of Energy money because they had a "cash flow" problem. NISSAN postponed the grand opening of the battery plant 2 day s after the election. Three weeks ago they told reporters that their would be a celebration. That way they would not question progress. A lot of taxpayer money was spent on the plant. Reporters should be able to 'look inside' .... The whisleblower was told it's mainly empty and just a "for show" assembly line was installed. Where did all the money go?
    Also someone told her that NISSAN was going to start using batteries from Korea because there more advanced. The NISSAN battery is the sam as the one they used in the 90's. It's outdated

  23. Well, Volt uses battery cells from LG chem in S. Korea but assembly the battery packs in Michigan. Nothing wrong with that.

    As long as Nissan actually assembles the Leaf in TN, then it will bring jobs to the area. Nothing wrong with that either.

    I do agree that strategy might "back fire" if "majority" of the sales aren't in the US. B/c Nissan wouldn't have the savings that it wished to have if it produces all the Leaf in the US without any significant volume in sales.

    Volt production lines have the same issue where GM has to produce other cars on the same assembly line.

  24. The dept. of Energy tooted that NISSAN would create 1300 jobs. and THAT is why they got the American money.

    The guy that is doing the distribution for the leaf is a company called Yashima Denso and he at most will create 4 jobs. Already he and his wife have taken MULTIPLE grants from the state and had other subsidized programs set up the company.

    He does NOT even put on his Linkedin profile because HE knew it was a "faux" company.

    If anyone does research they'll see it's a "scam".... it's sad.

  25. @ Sharyn Bovat: Lots of innuendo, little facts or links from your part. Clearly the Leaf program is in trouble. Nissan genuinely had high hopes for this vehicle, but so far demand is only a fraction of what they expected. So now they have a brand new plant in the US where the capacity they already had in place in Japan is more than enough to meet global demand. I think that explains better why Nissan doesn't feel like celebrating than your insinuations.

  26. Nissan took money from Portugal and then canceled the plant. I was told a long time ago from an insider that NISSAN had the capacity in Japan to build the WORLDWIDE Leaf demand through 2015. I worked with high level NISSAN executives. I was told in winter 2009 that NISSAN had a "cash flow" problem. The construction company that built the plant got 84 million... Where's the other 1.316,000,000.

    They used it to "pay their bills" and to stay open. I guess people are saying it's OK to lie just to get "free cash".... the collateral is an IDB bond NOT NISSAN backed but the taxpayers.

    NISSAN North AMerica has about 6 billion in IDB bond debt. Once NISSAN motors has NNA "restructure"they'll be "sitting pretty" the 401K owners will suffer

  27. I have a leased 2012 Leaf and while it is a very nice vehicle, it is quite limited. It is used primarily as a commuter car for local trips. We also have a Chevrolet Volt that is much more useful and retained an older vehicle for longer trips. As wonderful as it is to drive, it is really a secondary vehicle unless you want to deal with a good number of restrictions on travel that is beyond a very local trip. If not for the generous lease options it would still be at the dealers.

  28. So clearly the Leaf works: as a second car. Since over 60% of households in the US own more than one vehicle that should hardly limit the car's success. What's needed is education I think: people need to be made aware that not every car in their household needs to be roadtrip capable and that the Leaf might be able to do most of their yearly mileage for them without ever having to stop at a gas station.

  29. Who is going to "pay" to educate people?
    I'm serious. You have said I'm erratic and I found that a "bit" rude but I want to know "where" your coming from. I have read your comments on other blogs and I know that some people are "paid" to right positive things about the Leaf. Are you one of them?
    I'm not paid to blog I'm simply an American that wants RESPECT.

    Sharyn Bovat

  30. Maybe there is no nice way to put this but frankly the way you express yourself leaves a lot to be desired. Your communications miss a logical structure, are fraught with errors and are generally hard to follow by the people who are interested in your narrative. None of that does anything to improve your credibility.

    Maybe paid opinion shaping is a real thing, but even in this thread I made some observations about the Leaf that are less than flattering; Nissan would fire me on the spot! Nor did you read astroturfing comments from my part on other blogs, that's just between your ears. And that's the thing isn't it...

  31. Yeah, it's quantity to replace the lack of quality.

  32. Good Thing I made a "Screen shot" of my reply.

    Have a Great Day!

  33. Our experience is quite the opposite. We have leased two Leafs. The wife drives one on her daily commutes that average about 40 miles, and I drive the other one and average about 110 miles. We can count on one hand the number of non-"local" trips that we do in a given year. For those, we use our Prius. But even if we didn't have a third car, we could rent per long distance session. The bottom line is that the Leaf works for 99% of our driving requirements. Now, when some other EV option is more financially feasible for us, it will likely replace at least one of the Leafs. Until that day, we are very happy with most everything about the Leaf. If you query other Leaf owners, you will find that many of them use the Leaf as a primary vehicle.

  34. You sound like one of the happy EV owners from the 90's and I thank you to your commitment for zero/low emission driving. The price of the leaf is dramatically subsidized. The Mini EV was leased originally for $850 a month . I was told that "if" NISSAN did not get all the "free" taxpayer money then the Leaf Lease would be the "same" range.
    That said. Would you buy a Leaf for (I'll use the price before "marketing and other "not part of building it" cost which is $67K Would You buy a Leaf for $67,000. If the answer is NO .... Then the car will be a "flop" America is going off a Fiscal Cliff and we can't keep funding EV's for a demographic that makes over 140K a year.

    Please tell me you'd be happy to pay 67K

  35. Sharyn, the last statement you made, that "we can't keep funding EV's for a demographic that makes over 140K a year" seems to indicate you don't understand what it takes to make a major market shift. People do things from habit, from watching advertising, from watching their friends... and it takes something to get them to consider something they don't understand and don't yet see the value of. Someone who makes $140K can quite possibly afford a $40-50 car, but getting them to look at a Chevy Volt instead of a BMW 3 series... that's the trick the incentives/subsidies provide. Once enough people are on board, the benefits will sell themselves. It just takes an initial push to counteract the inertia of the same old cars they've always bought.

  36. I agree with you and I believe that spending money on the VOLT is OK. I'm one of just a few Republicans that think that way. A person connected with GM sat with me and explained that the VOLT is a car that if given incentives will be a success.

    The issue I have is with the NISSAN Leaf. They pushed the ChaDeMo system BEFORE America had a standard. They pushed the system when they told Governments the Leaf would get 100mpc then the car got a 73 mpc rating. Then in Oregon/Washington they had to put MORE ChaDeMo chargers in. Some cost 140K each all taxpayer grants. They had to space them "closer" due to the Leafs lack of range. The fast charger function ONLY works on NISSAN's and Mitsubishi.

  37. @ Sharyn Bovat

    Please explain to me what "free"government money is subsidizing the Leaf to the tune of $40K a pop. Remember: loans are not gifts!

    I'm not a fan of Chademo because it's limited to a ~60KW output making it unsuitable for the large batterypacks I think are the future but the chargers only cost a fraction of what you suggest. Numbers on the web vary from $50K to less than $10K.

    I do agree that the range of the Leaf is disappointing. The original 100 miles was sledged to 73 miles and even that will trail off to ~60 miles during the first few years of ownership, and that's not even factoring in the advice not to charge beyond 80%. Oops, guess I definitely lost my astroturfing job for Nissan now...

  38. It would be good if there were more charging stations at highway rest stops and roadside diners.

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