Nissan might have ended 2011 a with sales of its all-electric Leaf a few hundred cars short of its 10,000 unit target for the year, but there are now over 10,000 Leafs on the roads of the U.S. 

According to Autobloggreen, the happy event occurred last week during the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, which is probably why the news has been a little slow in getting out. 

The 10,000 car total includes all the cars which were sold since the Leaf’s launch in December 2010, and represents just under half of the total number of Leafs sold worldwide to date. 

“From a Leaf perspective, 2011 was a great year and very positive for the company,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan Leaf Marketing and Sales Strategist for Nissan North America. “[10,000 sales] is more EVs than have been sold in the United States -- and 20,000 globally -- than all the other OEMs combined throughout the world. So that’s an outstanding achievement.”

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

10,000 cars in just over 13 months may not seem like a large figure when you consider that the 2012 Prius V wagon sold 8,399 cars in 10 weeks at the end of 2011 .

But it’s important to remember one simple fact: this is the first time we’ve seen a mass-produced, mainstream electric car reach such high sales figures in the U.S. 

In other words, there aren’t any sales metrics we can use to accurately gauge how well the Leaf is selling, because this is the first time we’ve seen electric cars sold in these volumes. 

That said, it’s important to acknowledge that a 10,000 car milestone is a tiny achievement in the global auto industry, where car sales are normally measured in hundreds of thousands, not tens of thousands.

What should we take away from this news? 

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

Firstly, the U.S. should be rightly proud that nearly one-half of all Leafs made to date have been sold in the U.S. 

Secondly, it is important to to acknowledge that electric cars have a long way to go before they can truly be considered mainstream, but that electric cars are slowly becoming accepted by more and more consumers as a real alternative to a gasoline car.