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Published on April 3rd, 2015 | by James Ayre


Volkswagen e-Golf Surpasses Nissan LEAF As Top-Selling EV In Europe

April 3rd, 2015 by  

The Nissan LEAF has begun to face stiffer competition — with regard to growing electric vehicle (EV) sales from other manufacturers — as the market has continued developing.

No longer can you more or less simply assume that Nissan’s signature EV will reign at the top of the pile, as evidenced by the fact that the Volkswagen e-Golf actually took the top spot from the LEAF in “West Europe” during the first two months of 2015 — January and February.


According to the figures provided by the AID Newsletter, the Volkswagen e-Golf was the leading EV (with regard to total sales) in the 17 countries (markets) referred to as being the “West European” ones. Altogether, the VW e-Golf reportedly saw 2,150 registrations in those markets during January and February — well above the 1,750 that the Nissan LEAF saw in these markets during the same period of time.

Much of this dominance is, according to the AID Newsletter, down to the huge growth seen in the always red-hot Norwegian EV market — which saw “a highly charged sales blitz in Norway” as the newsletter put it. When you look at the figures, it’s quite easy to agree with them — January and February saw 1,716 units of the VW e-Golf registered in Norway. Which means that roughly 80% of all registrations for that model during that time period were in the Scandinavian country.

As compared to the VW e-Golf registration figures in Norway, the Nissan LEAF ‘only’ saw a reported 556 registrations in the country during the same period of time. Which means that roughly 32% of total new Nissan LEAF registrations during that time were in Norway — showing a clear disparity in the international reach of the two models.

Still, you can’t fault Volkswagen for targeting a specific market so effectively. That figure of 2,150 registrations represents significant growth. It’ll be interesting to see what the figures for the coming months show.

Image Credit: Volkswagen

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's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • MigukNamja

    While the eGolf and LEAF look similar on paper, they are very different cars when it comes to handling. I should know – I’ve had two(2) LEAFs and two(2) Golfs. The Golf corners and brakes better than the LEAF and handles much better around town and on the highway.

    The Golf interior is also 1 or 2 steps above the LEAF. The LEAF is a mish-mash of different design philosophies whereas the Golf is clean and consistent.

    While the LEAF is basically an all-electric Prius-like appliance car, the Golf is a true pleasure to drive.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Have you driven an eGolf or only fuel based?

      • MigukNamja


        Given the eGolf has an even lower center of gravity then the fuel, but is otherwise the same (same MQB platform), I’m assuming the eGolf handles at least as well or better than the diesel.

  • Great to see serious competition in the EV marketplace.

    Europe now has 4 major players
    Nissan (LEAF)
    VW (e-Golf)
    Tesla (Model S)
    Mitsubishi (Outlander PHEV)

    In the US its pretty much Nissan or Tesla. GM have faded badly over the last year.

    Nissan have taken too long to introduce the 2.0 LEAF and their sales are beginning to slip as a result.

    Bring on the competition!!

    • LogicDesigner

      I wouldn’t count GM out as a U.S. competitor! Most people think sales have slipped in anticipation of the 2016 model that has 30% more electric range and a significant price cut.

  • Brian Lee

    Why cant they ever have nice looking rims on an electric car?

    • Offgridman

      Along with looks the manufacturer’s need to provide rims that give optimal performance. Handling, accommodating the low rolling resistance tires, and aerodynamics for best range and etc.
      You can always change them out for after market ones if it bothers you that much. Just be careful, a few years ago a company got sued because the rims they were selling for the current year Mustang reduced the airflow so much that the brake pads were over heating and crystallizing, so needed to be replaced every 5-10,000 miles. Because of the changed rims Ford wouldn’t cover the warranty on the pads, so the expense all came back on the owners.

      • Brian Lee

        You cant possibly tell me those are the rims that give optimal performance. They look solid metal.

        • Offgridman

          You’re right I can’t tell you anything, nor did I try. You asked a question and I tried to answer it with common information that is generally known.
          Also not quite sure what picture you are looking at as the one that I see in this piece, the hubcaps or rims are quite obviously slotted for ventilation, not solid.

          • Brian Lee

            But you did try, smartass. Get off your internet high horse.

          • Offgridman

            Is it really necessary to resort to name calling? As you seem to be aware, yes this is the internet, and you are the one that posted a question. If you didn’t want an answer, or wanted to make sure that it was one that you could agree with, you should have been clear about that in the first place. My apologies for offending you Mr Lee.

          • Brian Lee

            blah blah blah mr. monocle

          • Bob_Wallace

            Contribute meaningful and useful input or go away.

  • gerry

    Still prefer the sheer driving pleasureof my premium brand cfrp BMW i3……

  • Ronald Brakels

    As far as I can tell, Nissan’s response to competition from European domestic EV manufacturers appears to be to give up. Now for all I know they are just about to release a Euro Leaf design for European current and conditions and take on the competition, but without it they will simply be outcompeted by manufactuers who don’t have the disadvantage of selling a platform that is designed for Japan and the US. And this may not be a bad decision. The Japanese and US markets are huge and Nissan may be happy to concentrate their energies there. They will of course be happy to sell as many Leafs in Europe as they can, but may not spend effort fighting to maintain market share there.

  • No way

    The e-Golf is ahead of the Leaf in Denmark, Germany, Austria and Switzerland too. So it’s not just Norway. It is pretty expected since the regular Golf is the most popular car in Europe by a big margin, and has been the top seller almost every year since…forever… Even during the age of the Roman empire the most popular horse carriage was the Volkswagen Golf warrior edition.

    • Martin

      I need to correct you, that would have been the Teutonic Golf warrior edition!

      • No way

        I stand corrected. =)

  • Bob_Wallace

    Why don’t we see some side-by-side comparisons that might tell us why?

    Cost, range, seating, cargo area, etc.

    Perhaps looks play a role?



    eta: I find the eGolf to have an acceptable look. I’d have to ignore the looks of the Leaf were I buying a small EV.

    • Bob_Wallace

      eGolf has a flat pack battery like the Tesla ModS. That means it has a frunk, unlike the Leaf? Corners better?

      • MigukNamja

        Should corner *much* better than the LEAF, yes.

    • Why
      don’t all EV articles include electric ranges of the vehicles being discussed? eGolf range is apparently 190 km (118 miles) for its 2015 model. The Nissan Leaf clocks in around
      138 km (86 miles) electric range if I recall correctly.

    • Calamity_Jean

      I like the short-hood look. Why have a long hood if there’s no engine under it? The hood just needs to be long enough to provide a good crumple zone for a crash.

  • JamesWimberley

    What was VW’s pricing in Norway? The list price of the e-Golf is higher than the Leaf in the US (€36,000 vs. $30,000 in the basic configurations, link). I suspect they were loss-leading to score the headline win. Nissan were caught napping.

    The e-Golf comes with a rearview camera as standard. How much longer before carmakers are allowed to get rid of the mileage-eating wing mirrors?

    • Offgridman

      In the US the base version of the Gulf came with a much better trim package than the Leaf so the price difference seemed to make sense. Leather seats, LED lights, and much better infotainment system are some of the things I remember hearing mentioned.
      Also there was a recent announcement from VW in the US that a reduced price, lower trim package version (cloth seats and etc) was being released with a price more in line with the Leaf. Not sure if that has happened yet, or will be in the next month or two.

    • No way

      230k NOK minimum price for the Leaf and 255k NOK minimum for the e-Golf in Norway. 25k NOK = 3150 USD.

      But the entry level Leaf (Visia) is barely with any equipment at all. So to make it more fair the entry level e-Golf should be compared to the mid-level Leaf (Acenta). Then it’s 255k vs. 252k and pretty much the same price.

      And then it’s a very easy choice in favor of the e-Golf.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Now it probably depends on the state, but it at least was the case in Australia that if you lost your right hand side mirror there was no need to replace it. It didn’t count as a defect, but the car had to have one when they were sold. So we just have to make car that has an easily detachable side mirror and we can get an instant boost to our miles per kilowatt-hour.

  • Martin

    Yes it is nice to have good competition in any field and good to see to have two big auto makers produce such a unit.
    Now if there would be more selection, vans, trucks etc. then it will get even better!

    • spec9

      Indeed. The lack of different body styles beyond a hatchback is quick disappointing. Mitsubishi figure this out and has had a hit with their Outlander PHEV. And now other PHEVs are on the way.

  • vdiv

    The fake engine noise and steering wheel vibration were hugely disappointing, It seems VW is missing one of the really important points of EVs, serenity. Also the EU version is better equipped than the US version, bigger, higher resolution and more responsive infotainment screen, self parking, better radio, etc.

    • Martin

      I did talk to somebody, a rental car company person, they USED to have some hybrid cars in their fleet, but did get rid of them, because the way you start one, push a button, and no noise, people will have to get used to that, the quit no sound world of EV’s.

      • spec9

        That’s kinda sad. They could just put a little note in the car saying “This is an electric car such that you won’t hear a noise when turning it on. The green light means the car is ready to drive.”

        • jeffhre

          Or even better if someone who actually liked EVs and realized the marketing potential wrote it: This vehicle is equipped a a quiet and powerful EV drivetrain. You will not hear any motor sounds when you start it up. Best of all, in addition to offering sporty acceleration, you will be able to hear the environment around you!

      • vdiv

        Yeah, I was at the Denver Airport Avis a couple of weeks ago asking for a hybrid or, gasp! a plugin of any sort and they said they don’t have them anymore. Used to be able to get a Prius from them.

    • GRuth

      Most EV’s have some amount of noise at lower speeds specifically to warn pedestrians and cyclists of their approach. I’m guessing that the fake engine noise is added specifically for that reason.

      • vdiv

        The fake noise in the eGolf and obviously the steering wheel vibration were directly targeted at the driver. Also many EVs currently do not have passive (on when the car is moving) noisemakers. The Leaf and the Prius have a beeper only when reversing, and the discontinued Fisker Karma has a buzzing sound when the car is on, all rather annoying and yet easily ignored by pedestrians when it matters.
        Some EVs have active, driver activated noisemakers. The Volt/ELR have an interrupted horn pedestrian alert that has the opposite problem, it is too loud, obnoxious and shocks people. Hence most drivers hesitate to use it, they just wait for the people to clear the way.

        • GRuth

          The Leaf does have an active noisemaker whenever the car moves below a certain speed. (I own one.) This noise is different than the reverse beeping. You can disable it, but the default is that it is turned on.

          That’s annoying and stupid that the Golf noise is targeting the driver. That obviously does not serve the function I’m referring to.

          • vdiv

            Active and passive refer to the driver having to activate it versus the noise coming on by itself. Sounds like the Leaf has a passive forward noisemaker.

            Yeah, the eGolf is pretty good, has an independent rear suspension and handles very nicely. The battery packaging is amazing — looking at the car one cannot tell where is the battery. The car is really spacious and practical. The LED DRLs/headlighs are a head-turner. However I had a hard time overcoming the aforementioned few annoyances.

          • Ronald Brakels

            The Leaf’s noisemaking depends on the model and country. Rules vary depending on nation.

          • Steven F

            .The battery packaging is amazing — looking at the car one cannot tell where is the battery.”

            I seen the outside volts, leafs, teslas, and the prius up close you cannot tell where the battery is in all of them. What are you expecting to see that tells you where the battery is?.

          • vdiv

            Have you seen the inside?

        • Bob_Wallace

          The interior noise can be turned off?

          • vdiv

            I don’t know, probably, the question is would it be via a setting or by cutting wires 🙂

  • spec9

    Home team advantage. The eGolf is a bit of a disappointment since it basically has the same specs as the LEAF that was introduced 4 years ago. But it is always nice to have another EV on the market. There are subtle differences between the LEAF and eGolf such that people can choose which one is best for them.

    • Philip W

      The eGolf is basically a placeholder until VW has an EV that’s designed from the ground up ready.
      Even nicer for VW if they can sell a decent amount of placeholders 🙂

      • Offgridman

        Reports and videos from VW last year explained how the Gulf and manufacturing lines had been changed. So they can put the body together and then just direct it to the line for either EV or ICE power train installation according to current demand.
        So the ground up redesign has already happened. VW has also made some comments about a higher energy density, lighter weight battery. So it could end up with the Gulf staying as a estate/station wagon, but with much better range.

      • No way

        Don’t hold your breath for a ground up just for BEVs platform. Because the e-Golf is on the brand new MBQ platform which was designed to accomodate BEV’s and PHEVs in the line up (as well as all different kinds of engines and even gas models).

        So this is “ground up” already. Or as much as it probably will be until a new platform is designed maybe 7 years from now or so when this platform cycle is over.

        The hope for a BEV only platform is that battery prices drop but the energy density doesn’t increase a lot.

        • Philip W

          Let’s hope that Golf design is good enough to compete with other EVs in that category.

          They want to bring a new Beetle by 2018 which could be all electric (or ICE or PHEV, they haven’t decided yet).
          I like that, because I’m a huge VW bug fan, I grew up with one like my parents already did. As much as I love new technology, that car still has huge significance in my life.
          My excpections are therefore pretty high.

          • No way

            The Beetle will be on the MQB-platform. So it would be (possible) available as a gasoline, diesel, gas, PHEV and BEV. Depending on what VW wants to sell.
            But the battery space will be the same for the Beetle as on the e-Golf.

          • Philip W

            ok so not optimal either.
            That MQB-platform will always have disadvantages to a car that is designed only as BEV from the ground up.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Ford did a similar thing with the Fusion. They set up their assembly lines so that they could switch quickly from fuel to EV as demand changed. I don’t think they have made a real effort to sell EVs but they’ve done some of the ground work for later when battery prices are down.

          Looks to me as if VW has done a smart thing. They’re able to produce a crossover/wagon/whatever with under the floorboard batteries while keeping the rest of the vehicle costs lower by spreading everything else over multiple power systems.

          Tesla putting the ModS and ModX on the same base is another example. Hopefully the Mod3 base will see multiple tops. A pickup. A sleek sedan. A crossover for those who need to haul more….

          • No way

            The standardized modular platform is smart. Sharing cost, very easy to put in any engine or alternative drivetrain on any kind of model.
            Volvo are also doing the same with their SPA-platform which all their models will be on in 2017 (or 2018 at the latest), which makes every model a possible PHEV or BEV and in combination with any diesel or gasoline engine (well the PHEVs, obviously not the BEVs).
            They are preparing for the possible very rapid change to almost all plugins.

          • Radical Ignorant

            Not so sure. There are always tradeoffs. Just look ar F35 which was supposed to be single platform of almost everything. Planning for multiple is much harder than planning for more narrow. And it can’t be optimized to use full advantage of given case.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The F35 isn’t a good example. Different branches of the military want their fighter to do different tasks. With passenger cars the goal is the same, regardless of propulsion system.

            If a car company designs a multi-propulsion system vehicle there can be many/mostly shared parts. The EV version will need a frunk liner and a charge point rather than a gas filler.. All the differences happen at the ‘sled’ level.

            One type sled will have an ICE and systems installed, another type will have batteries and electric motor.

            Both will have the same body shell, seats, interior, glass, doors, etc.

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