2015 Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf, which has long been the world's best-selling electric car, has added another laurel to its crown.
With December sales of 3,102 units, total Leaf sales in the U.S. for 2014 totaled 30,200 last year--a new yearly record for any plug-in electric vehicle in the country.
Since it first went on sale in December 2010, a total of 72,322 Leafs has been sold in the States.
The Leaf is one of just a handful of plug-in cars that routinely logs U.S. sales of 1,000 or more units a month.
The others include the Chevrolet Volt and the Tesla Model S. More recently, the BMW i3 sales hit that level for three months last year.
2015 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Dashboard
Various plug-in hybrids have also managed to sell more than 1,000 units in some months, including the Toyota Prius Plug-In and the Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi.
But only the Leaf has managed to sell more than 3,000 units a month--a feat it accomplished four times last year (in May, July, August, and now December).
Nissan sold almost 1.4 million cars in the U.S. in total last year, up 11.1 percent from its 2013 total. Its single best-selling vehicle line is the Altima mid-sized sedan, which sold more than 300,000 units.
All Nissan Leaf hatchbacks sold in North America are now built in Nissan's multi-vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.
They are also now built in the company's original Leaf assembly site in Oppama, Japan, and in Sunderland, England.
The lithium-ion cells for U.S. Leaf battery packs are also assembled in an adjacent plant, built just for the Leaf and later electric vehicles, although the high-value electrode material continues to be supplied from Japan.
2015 Nissan Leaf
While Nissan had plans to produce up to 150,000 Leafs per year at the Smyrna plant, sales have been slower to ramp up over the past four years than the company would have liked.
That said, the Renault Nissan Alliance has now delivered more than 200,000 battery-electric vehicles globally, in dozens of countries and including six different vehicle lines.
That puts the Japanese and French companies solidly in the lead in plug-in car sales among all global automakers.
The 2015 Nissan Leaf S model starts at a base price of $29,860, while a top-of-the-line SL, optioned with the Premium Package, costs a grand total of $37,540. Its range rating is 84 miles.
A redesigned second-generation Leaf is expected to be launched for the 2017 model year, with less polarizing styling and two or different options for battery-pack sizes, and hence range--the largest size perhaps delivering 120 to 150 miles of range.