About four and a half years after the first 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car was delivered, Nissan and its French partner Renault have reached a significant milestone.

Together, the two carmakers have sold more than 250,000 electric cars globally.

That total was reached earlier this month, when a white Renault Zoe was delivered to Yves Nivelle--a computer engineer from Bordeaux, in France.

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"My diesel car was completely obsolete," Nivelle said, noting that it was costing extra money to keep it registered for road use under French regulations.

In contrast, the government offered a bonus for trading in the old diesel for a new electric car.

The Zoe is a subcompact electric car that, like the rest of the Renault brand, isn't sold in the U.S.

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

It accounts for a relatively small share of the total volume of electric cars sold by Renault and Nissan.

At 180,000 units sold in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, the Nissan Leaf leads the charge (no pun intended).

The Leaf is by far the best-selling electric car in history, and one of two all-electric vehicles from Nissan.

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The other is the e-NV200, which employs the Leaf's powertrain in the body of the NV200 small commercial van.

It's currently sold in Europe and Asia and Europe, and Nissan discussed U.S. sales as well.

Renault has offered five electric models, with the most sales generated by the Zoe ZE compact hatchback and Kangoo ZE van.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

It also offers the Twizy, and previously sold the now-discontinued Fluence ZE, which is now only zsold in South Korea under the Renault-Samsung brand.

From January to May of this year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance claims to have sold 31,700 electric cars--an increase of just under 15 percent from the same period last year.

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The Alliance has also partnered with a variety of governments and interested organizations to roll out public DC fast-charging stations around the world.

While electric cars still remain a tiny fraction of total new-car sales, Renault and Nissan can at least claim to have turned the segment into a sustainable niche.


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