Tesla Model 3 production starts in a couple of days. A next-gen Nissan LEAF with long range and ProPilot is expected to be released later this year. A year ago, we thought these factors were already eating into Nissan LEAF sales and would hurt Chevy Bolt sales, and we figured the story would get worse for the LEAF in 2017. Surprisingly, US LEAF sales are up this year compared to 2016! And June again saw more LEAF sales than the same month in 2016.
The approach Nissan seems to be taking emphasizes to me (yet again) that Nissan genuinely wants to sell electric cars. It’s not 100% into EVs, like Tesla or Lucid Motors, but I think the national and global execs are positive in their approach to electrification and are working to find creative and innovative ways to move more zero-emissions cars.
How is Nissan keeping sales flowing? It seems that the approach Nissan is using right now (in the midst of dramatic changes within the EV industry that challenge Nissan’s leadership) is to offer huge discounts in select markets. We’ve written about such discounts several times and I think Nissan is still using this approach in various locations (if you have some examples, please drop us a note). Built on top of hundreds of thousands of happy Nissan LEAF drivers, it seems this approach is working quite well in the US, Europe, and Japan.
Aside from that, simply word of mouth and more “normal people” experiencing the LEAFs of early adopters is probably driving a good number of sales. There’s a solid chance that over 50% of the population couldn’t tell you that Tesla is a car company if you asked them. Many Americans may experience an electric car for the first time via a friend’s or family member’s LEAF, and may not look far beyond that after the positive experience. The experience is undoubtedly going to be good the vast majority of the time, which can then lead to this new enthusiast walking into a Nissan dealer and asking for a LEAF.
For that matter, I think that’s also a big part of what’s driving Chevy Volt, Chevy Bolt, and Toyota Prius Prime sales — word of mouth from Volt and “normal Prius” buyers.
Also note that many current LEAF drivers have decided they want another LEAF, and some other EV drivers have set their eyes on getting a LEAF. Sure, 0–60 mph times are important to many buyers who surely gravitate toward other EV models (Teslas, the Bolt, and the BMW i3 perform much better in this metric), and access to superfast charging has been pulling others away from Nissan and all other non-Tesla brands, but plenty of other buyers are supremely happy with the smooth ride, instant torque, and zero emissions of a LEAF as well as the existing and growing charging network a LEAF can use.
Gold medalists get most of the attention, but athletes who consistently rank in the top 3 or top 10 deserve praise too … in my book, at least.
Kudos to Nissan for continuing to push LEAF sales, and thank you to the buyers who are gobbling them up.
Survey results from our new EV report. Responses came from over 2,000 EV drivers across 26 European countries, 49 of 50 US states, and 9 Canadian provinces. Responses were segmented according to region — North America vs Europe — and type of electric car — plug-in hybrid vs Tesla vs non-Tesla fully electric car.
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