Nissan CEO Admits 2012 Leaf Sales Goal Won't Be Reached

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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For many months, Nissan has said it would sell 20,000 Leaf electric cars in the U.S. by next March.

Sales rates didn't seem to support that, and now Nissan has conceded that it won't happen.

CEO Carlos Ghosn said that number "would not be reached," in an interview on Bloomberg TV in Mexico City yesterday. The Detroit News reported Ghosn's remarks.

Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs in the U.S. during 2011, and had long planned to double that number this year.

But from January through October, it sold 6,791 Leafs--15 percent fewer than in the same period last year--although October sales spiked to 1,579, its second-best month ever.

Just last month, Nissan executive Andy Palmer told a small group of reporters that the company had not abandoned its plan to double U.S. Leaf sales this year.

At the time, he conceded that the car's sales number weren't meeting internal expectations.

Nissan still has by far the most aggressive plans of any global automaker to design and sell several different pure battery-electric vehicles.

It has already shown a concept version of the 2015 Infiniti LE electric compact luxury sedan, and it is likely to offer the e-NV 200, an electric version of its compact delivery van as well.

Recently, the company has made several shifts in its executive ranks to attempt to manage its global electric vehicle effort better.

Among them were appointing Billy Hayes as global electric-vehicle sales chief, and reorganizing some of its U.S. communications functions.

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

Enlarge Photo

A media event that was to have been held today to show off Nissan's lithium-ion battery cell fabrication plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, was abruptly canceled last week.

Yesterday, reports emerged that the U.S. Department of Labor had won almost $800,000 in back pay for contractors on an unnamed plant expansion project in Tennessee who had been underpaid under Federal work rules.

That plant is very likely either the cell plant or the associated expansion of Nissan's production lines in the adjacent Smyrna assembly plant where the company will start building 2013 Leafs next month.

That work was funded by low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy. Nissan was originally granted $1.6 billion, of which it ended up using $1.4 billion.


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Comments (7)
  1. The Leaf is a nice car, but outside of California there is no infrastructure to fully support it. The Volt is a much better option.

  2. What infrastructure?
    The Leaf, Volt and probably just about any other plug-in slow-charge the exact same way -- from a plain-vanilla power outlet if nothing else.
    DC fast charge now, while not at all necessary to drive an EV, is a great way to extend its range. But when it comes to that though, California trails behind many other states; at least WA, OR, TX, IL, TN.

  3. Yes, how can they sell 20000 of those when noone knows about them, there are almost none good advertisments and when they're in the hands of oil-companies.

  4. Nissan has all the capacity it needs to meet global demand for the Leaf in Japan, making the TN plant 100% redundant. It's curious that Nissan made such a huge mistake in its estimates. The Leaf is a nice car but its looks are questionable and it fails to exploit the new chances in platform building EV drivetrains offer. The battery offers the sort of real world range, especially after a few years of use that was never going to impress the masses.

    Time to turn over a new leaf: a dedicated EV platform with a 120 miles of real world range. Otherwise the TN plant will never be used for much else than the ICE vehicles that currently make up plan B. Surely that would be rather hard to explain to the DOE?

  5. Nissan needs to start producing a street version of the exciting Nismo Leaf RC.

    In my opinion, Nissan needs to advertise better and justify the prices they charge for the Leaf, particularly, when the exterior looks similar to their budget cars.

  6. I don't think Nissan ever intended the Leaf to be anything more than a very utilitarian vehicle for local transportation. How many of us have daily driving requirements beyond the Leaf's maximum range? The build out of a DC fast charging infrastructure is certainly a bonus, but the the lack of it is not a show stopper. The car rides well, drives well, and comes reasonably well equipped. Full disclosure: bought an SL last month... Love it!

  7. If Nissan started the $199/month lease back in Feb, it might have a chance of meeting that goal...

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