Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results (Exclusive)

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So… I forgot about this Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey a few times now, but we got 155 responses from Nissan LEAF shoppers (and the last one came in just about 1 day ago), so I think it’s time to finally share the results.

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results 1

The most basic part of the sales process is something I might not have even thought of (one of our readers came up with most of the survey questions): whether or not the salesperson was “interested in discussing the LEAF.” Interestingly, despite being the #1 best-selling electric car in the US and the world, despite being built electric from the ground up, and despite being strongly backed publicly by Renault-Nissan Chairman & CEO Carlos Ghosn, only ~50% of the respondents said their salesperson was very interested in talking about the LEAF. In total, ~78% were “very interested” or “somewhat interested,” which is probably better than for any other electric car from a large manufacturer other than perhaps the BMW staff. ~10% were neutral, ~8% were “not particularly interested,” and ~4% were “definitely not interested.”

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results 3

While not the majority, over 14% of respondents said that their salesperson actually disparaged the LEAF! That’s disheartening. Here are respondent comments about how their salesperson did so:

  • my commute was 100kms and they thought it was too on the limit of the Mk1
  • Suggested lease, not buy. Said not a good investment.
  • Said it was for city use only.
  • Told me I didn’t want that car
  • kept negatively comparing it to a Versa Note, which we were also looking at
  • Range is not enough
  • I know more about this car.
  • Harped on about range and range anxiety.
  • To much focus on the little milages with battery
  • Range
  • just to let me know of range limitation
  • Said it was for city use only.
  • said to me it was a city car and not made for the country and there wasn’t enough charging stations to support it and a waste of time to wait until it was charged up that the extra money spent on gas was worth my time he said a nissan leaf in comparison to a nissan Versa the cost is the same by the time you pay for gas and maintence.
  • “That’s fine if you are willing to wait several months to get your car”
  • He asked us in disbelief, “You want to test drive a Leaf?”
  • limited range and charge time
  • He tryed to sell me a Kia small car with 40mpg. also advised that the cost (and the lease) is not as attractive as kia alternative
  • Sales manager quote “corporate isn’t stupid enough to get involved in producing cars that don’t use gas”

As noted several times above, salespeople tried to steer the potential customers to other cars. We specifically asked about that as well…

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results 4

~11% of respondents said that their sales representative tried to get them into a different vehicle.

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results 5

Of those 11% (17 respondents), the most common alternative pushed on the Nissan LEAF shoppers was the Nissan Versa, followed by the Nissan Altima and then Nissan Maxima and Nissan Sentra.

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results 2

Overall, knowledgeability about the LEAF left a lot lacking. ~26% of respondents said their salesperson was “very knowledgable,” ~31% said he/she was “fairly knowledgable,” ~20% said he/she was “moderately knowledgable,” ~16% said he/she was “not very knowledgable,” and ~7% even said he/she was “not knowledgable at all.”

Nissan LEAF Survey 10

In the end, 57% of respondents said that they ended up buying the LEAF.

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey 11

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey 12

Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey 13

Of the 67 respondents who didn’t buy the LEAF, only 2 went on to buy another Nissan vehicle (one went for the Nissan Maxima and one went for the Nissan Juke). However, 14 (18%) went on to buy another plug-in car. 60% (9) of them bought the Chevy Volt, 13% (2) bought the Ford Focus Electric, 13% (2) bought the Tesla Model S, and 4% (1) bought the BMW i3.

As James Wimberley notes in the comments below, and I thought and should have mentioned myself: “The crucial datum for Ghosn is that the customers who didn’t buy the LEAF bought other EVs not other Nissans. In other words, EV buyers are for now exactly that: customers who have already decided they want an EV. So if Nissan don’t have separate Leaf dealerships, they must at least have dedicated sales staff.” (Note: that last sentence/point hadn’t really crossed my mind, but I don’t know what else could correct for ill-informed and downright bad salespeople trying to steer LEAF customers to gasmobiles.)


I got 61 extra comments on the bottom of the survey as well. Many focused on how horrible the sales experience was. Many noted that they went to another Nissan dealer where a salesperson was better. One person went to 5 dealerships and all had bad service (but he had actually already bought one and was simply checking out how the sales process at various dealers). Some noted that they were still planning to buy the LEAF but hadn’t yet (that would have been a good answer choice to include). And one noted: “Several dealership did try to steer to other cars but Doug McIntosh at Autonation Nissan in Lewisville was a terrific salesman. 11 friends have bought leafs from him in 4 months.” Kudos to Doug!

Echoing something we’ve heard before, one respondent wrote: “I also test drove a Tesla and a BMW i3. Tesla sales woman was outstanding, understandably. BMW salesman was better than Nissan, but thought it strange that I didn’t want the range extender model. I’m going to lease a Leaf from another Nissan dealer because the EV range and charging accessibility could be much better in 3 years. I live in Minnesota, which is like an EV barren desert. :(”

And here was one surprise: “Best sales experience in buying a car in my life, from start to finish. Totally surprised.” Wondering if his salesperson was Paul Scott… but if not, certainly must have been another EV enthusiast.

Was this a representative survey?

Of course not. This survey was only shared here on a cleantech website and on sites or social media networks where readers took the time to reshare it. I imagine a representative sample would result in more LEAF shoppers being steered away from the LEAF, and more of them thinking the salespeople were actually very knowledgable about the LEAF.

Again, these are the results for the top-selling electric car in the US and the world, one that its manufacturer is strongly behind. Imagine the results for all of the other plug-in cars on the market!

Any wonder why Tesla won’t go through dealerships?

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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29 thoughts on “Nissan LEAF Shopper Survey Results (Exclusive)

  • “Some noted that they were still planning to buy the LEAD but hadn’t yet ”

    People should really think twice about buying LEAD, I really can’t recommend it : / lol

    • That had me scratching my head too. I thought perhaps the dealers believed a lead battery version was coming out, then I realised it must surely be a typo.

  • The crucial datum for Ghosn is that the customers who didn’t buy the LEAF bought other evs not other Nissans. In other words, ev buyers are for now exactly that: customers who have already decided they want an ev. So if Nissan don’t have separate Leaf dealerships, they must at least have dedicated sales staff.

    • Yep, I almost discussed that / made the same point. Not sure what stopped me from doing so… will throw your comment up in there.

  • Given the almost universal assumption by my friends, admittedly elderly and not very informed, but some quite affluent, that range is not yet safe enough for a changeover, I don’t find it all that surprising for some sales personnel to be cautious, especially with those potential customers who will demand a no-nonsense undertaking that they will not be inconvenienced by the much lower range limits compared to their ICE vehicle, if only from a concern for self-preservation in the event of such an occurrence!

  • I can see why Tesla want to sell directly, after seeing how many Nissan customers were given the run-around by ill-informed dealers.

  • If i was a Nissan exec. I would be extremely upset with these results. Its one thing to offer the Versa Note as an alternative- but to leave such a negative impression of your whole operation is startlingly stupid. Car salesman have a bad rep. to begin with, and this just demonstrates their belief that the consumer is stupid, and I can steer them towards what I feel like selling (either thru my own prejudices or whatever offers me a larger commission).
    I would love to see an independent dealership (not likely i know) that sold only hybrids and ev’s. Maybe in the near future there will be enough of a secondary market to support this. It would not suprise me to learn that the average person looking for an EV/hybrid has done more homework than someone just looking for a new ride.

    • Well said.

      Am looking forward to EV/hybrid-only dealerships… if the whole model doesn’t get changed.

  • My sales guy was very enthusiastic to sell me an EV. He was reasonably knowledgeable about the car as well. I still get emails from him, telling me about the other people he’s sold cars to, including one 80 year old Grandma!

    He’s hoping he can talk me into an electric B class once my lease is up, and I’ll let him take a run at it too.

    • Ha, love the stories about the EV-enthusiast salespeople. Let us know how that electric B class pitch turns out. 😀 Looks like a decent buy.

      • It’s going to be a tough sell if the Tesla model III is available. 😀

        • Ha, yeah… 😀 I think the whole rest of the EV market is going to have a hard time then.

        • Considering we don’t know much about what the Model III will be yet, I think it’s really premature to say that. Range is not the only factor to consider and Leaf will likely still be cheaper for more price-sensitive buyers. For example, we got a SparkEV as our second car because we didn’t need the additional range, didn’t want an expensive payment, and didn’t want Nissan’s passive cooling. Our primary is a Volt so we worked with the same sales staff. That was another factor. Yeah, the Model III will probably be bitchin and the one to beat for a lot of people, but it’s not available yet and when it is, what will the rest of the market look like? We don’t know. GM is not sitting still.

  • I am not that alarmed once I saw this data. It is not all that uncommon for a salesman to size up the situation and recommend a buyer consider another car. Over time we should have a more experienced EV sales force for all brands. Inexperience was what I’ve mostly had to deal with. Once I found who knew what they were talking about at our local dealership I was fine … until they let Parry go for some unknown reason.

  • My experience may shed some light on this. The Missan dealer is right next door to the Toyota dealership, and both are owned by the same person. The Nissan Leaf saleman was extremely enthisiastic -I thought pushy, and I also thought he was overselling the car. My regular saleman that I use next door, with whom I will actually make the deal thinks far too many people bought Leafs without properly understanding the downsides (range issue), and the number of tradeins has (he claimed) been quite high. So assuming this latter statement is correct, then there is in fact an issue with Nissan not screening out buyers for whom the vehicle will prove inappropriate. It may be that other Nissan salepersons are overcompensating by simply being negative about the vehicle.

    • Might be some of that in there, especially if those claims are true. I noticed one respondent who had gone to several dealers was in AZ, where there were issues with the heat and the Leaf’s tolerance to it.

  • Went to one in Madison, WI (Kayser Nissan) that had the two LEAFs charging at a station in the front of the building near the entrance and that seems like a good way of promoting the car or at least getting people who are car shopping to inquire about them since you can’t get into the building without walking right past them. The car salesman actually said they use the used one quite a bit to run paperwork from place to place or get lunch.

    Same deal at a local dealer who was selling Volts at a Chevy dealership. Hopefully if these companies encourage their salesmen to actually drive them (even for errants around town) they might loose some of their bias against them when they really get into the throttle and realize how much power they have!

    • Very cool. Great idea. Probably the best way to educate the staff.

      Of course, Madison is a bit more progressive than Anytown, USA, but still nice to hear. 😀

      • Definitely agree I live in Anytown, USA (45 minutes south in Janesville home of the now defunct GM SUV plant) where the Nissan dealer has no interest in selling one. Although I’ve seen several Chevy Volts (and the big Chevy dealer is actually enthusiastic about selling them!) which is good in a city where almost every other driveway has an Tahoe or a Silverado.

        • That’s cool. It seems like a real hit or miss with Volt and Leaf dealers. I also follow the Volt forum, and there are a ton of conservatives on there who are huge fanboys.

          For me, the thing is that electric motors are simply much better, anyone can discover that, and it’s only a matter of time before the masses do.

          • From your lips to god’s ears…..

          • Thinking on my self-preservation theme, at the moment the only ‘safe’ recommendation has to be the Volt because of its risk-free range[ notwithstanding the Tesla which is not near the popular price bracket]. All other choices would have to be ‘at your own risk’ which is proving to be what many buyers are prepared to take.
            Reminds me of the old query as to why one slap in the face will be remembered over a sea of praises, the answer to me being that a hard enough slap can kill you whereas no amount of plaudits can bring resurrection!

  • Just walked into a dealership yesterday. The owner made the following statements, all in this one visit of under 10 minutes :

    * The Leaf isn’t affordable.

    * People are only getting like 40 miles out of a charge. Even Nissan is admitting it.

    * One guy from the (nearby) AFB bought one in the city, and it died on him on the way home from the dealership. Had to be towed.

    * Nissan has been harping on us to sell Leafs, put them on our lot, add a charging station, etc. Now they’ve stopped even pushing it.

    * They aren’t selling.

    *No EVs are selling. Chevy has discontinued the Volt, too.

    * You’re way better off with a Versa.

    Hmm. With a pitch like that, I wonder why he doesn’t have people lining up to buy a Leaf?

  • 14 months now with my Leaf. SWFL it’s 94 degrees today. If the heat affects the range, it doesn’t affect it much. As with many folks I also have an ICE machine if that would be necessary. However, I’ve had to put stabilizer in the tank since it sits for weeks on end. Range was an issue at first but that turned out to be phscological rather than a physical deterent. Longest drive so far between charge ups was 78 miles back into my garage where I installed a level II charger which does a great job. The dealership has been a less than helpful partner. Nissan Corporate has been extremely helpful dealing with the dealership when they wouldn’t or couldn’t resolve an issue. (didn’t know how to turn on Carwings, said it wasn’t available in my area) I would buy another Leaf in a heartbeat if not for the dealership. When lease is up, (baring changes from Nissan Dealerships) will be ordering the Tesla Model III.

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