If you had to guess the top ten U.S. markets for Nissan Leaf sales, you'd probably select a bunch of locations on the west and east coasts.
And for the most part, you'd be right--but as Nissan's own figures show, even a few of the Midwestern and Southern cities are getting behind the electric compact.
No prizes for guessing the top two markets: San Francisco and Los Angeles are electric car central right now, each offering a suitable charging infrastructure and plenty of congestion, allowing the Leaf to beat its gasoline counterparts where they're at their most inefficient. In San Francisco specifically, the Leaf is in the top ten selling vehicles--and the very first Leaf in the U.S. was sold there in 2010.
What you might not have guessed is that Atlanta, Georgia is the third-most Leafy city in the States. Nissan calls it a "New Wave" electric car market, with several factors coming into play in favor of the Leaf. One is good old congestion--something familiar to residents of any big city--but High Occupancy Vehicle lane access, a $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission vehicles in the state, and a Nissan workplace outreach has seen more than 100 sales to Southern Company utility employees alone.
Fourth and fifth place go to Seattle and Portland respectively, with incentives, high awareness and the West Coast Electric Highway all helping Leaf sales, while Honolulu in Hawaii sits in sixth. Despite higher electricity prices, gas is more expensive for island residents too, and a large charging grid makes getting around particularly easy.
More Western markets cover 7th and 8th spots--San Diego and Sacramento--before the Leaf's U.S. manufacturing home, Nashville, pops up on the list. Home advantage certainly plays a part here, with plenty of employee enthusiasts to spread the word and a push by the city to set up a suitable charging network.
"In certain communities we've seen peer-to-peer selling play a huge role and sales really are viral in nature," said Nissan director of EV sales and marketing, Erik Gottfried, explaining the car's popularity in Tennessee.
And tenth position? That goes not to an East Coast city, as you might expect, but St. Louis, Missouri. Home of the Gateway Arch, St. Louis has taken its "gateway to the West" status literally and adopted that western love of electric vehicles. It's another New Wave market for Nissan, with enthusiastic dealers and customers able to afford the lease payments on a Leaf with the money they've saved in gas.
Chicago and Denver tie for 11th spot, followed by Washington D.C, Dallas and New York.
Is your city on the list? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.