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.
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.”
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
- 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…
~11% of respondents said that their sales representative tried to get them into a different vehicle.
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.
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.”
In the end, 57% of respondents said that they ended up buying the LEAF.
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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