Nissan Leaf Selling Fast

If you have not put your name on the waiting list for a Nissan Leaf, you had better hurry fast.  Not that scrambling to put your name on the list makes much of a difference:  dealers who are part of a pilot project to showcase the Leaf are already sold out of the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.  The sellout occurred before the sedans could even arrive at the showrooms in a handful of US states

Pilot program or not, the quick sellout is impressive—even if the buyers were wealthier “early adopters” who have the discretionary income for the Leaf, the sticker price of which is about $32K.  Some bemoan the sluggish growth of this nascent niche industry, but on the other hand, it is impressive the growth of the electric car industry over the past couple years.  The growth should continue over this decade:  Bloomberg believes electric vehicles will comprise 9% of automobile sales by 2020, and that percentage will more than double another 10 years by 2030.

For now most Leaf buyers are those in the higher income brackets who can afford to tinker with an electric vehicle as a second car.  The next challenge for Nissan is to convince those more pragmatic consumers who many not yet be convinced that an electric vehicle is practical and can save them money.  Recharging, of course, is a huge issue: and Nissan has reported that 90% of the customers who reserved a Leaf live within 10 miles of a dealer that has installed charging stations.

Despite the challenges of a new automobile technology, Nissan is still bullish on the Leaf.  For now production is limited to a plant in Japan, but by 2012, 125,000 cars will roll off the assembly line at a new Tennessee plant.  The company will also introduce an all-electric commercial van in 2014.

For Nissan, the Leaf is an opportunity for Nissan to boost its brand awareness in the United States, which has lagged behind Honda, and yes, Toyota, despite their problems the past couple years.  Innovation, led by the Leaf, could be Nissan’s key to increasing its market share in the US.  If the Leaf receives great reviews once they hit the roads en masse, an infrastructure develops that makes PHEV cars easier to own, and battery costs come down—a wish complicated by China’s on-again, off-again shut off of rare metals crucial for their manufacture—Nissan could benefit from their first-mover advantage in the electric car market.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

4 responses

  1. You need to clarify the article the Leaf is not a PHEV but a pure EV, no gas engine, just batteries.

    A PHEV would be like the next version of Prius having double batteries for short bursts of all electric power but still having an IC engine.

  2. You forgot to mention the federal tax credits that bring the price down from the 32k. Also, it is not a hybrid vehicle. It is a pure electric vehicle. There is no gas engine like in the Chevy Volt which is a hybrid since the gas engine on the Chevy does drive the wheels.

  3. There are just too many errors in this article. Those who wish to find out real facts should check out other sites (including the Leaf specific forum I’ve linked).

    I’ll just note one fact, though. 60% of American families have multiple cars. All we have to do is get rid of one gas car for Leaf. Leaf becomes the primary car we use 350 days a year. The ICE car will be used by the other members n the family and for long trips.

  4. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I see the Leaf referred to as a PHEV all the time. Sounds like some people are just small and want to prove they are the ones in the room who know the most in the room. Not everyone knows what an ICE or PHEV is anyway, so go to an auto forum and sound off. All the author is mentioning is how the car is selling fast and how some are bullish on its future.

    The price point is fair, but even with tax credits, in this economy, it’s a challenge to get people to buy a “second car” with limited range. Plus the promise of tax credits are dubious as the paperwork is always a hassle.

    These cars won’t scale unless the utilities become more open about installing charging units at homes without driving consumers mad–I’m talking about level 2 or whatever the term is.

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