The 2019 Nissan LEAF is one of the most interesting and mysterious vehicles coming to market in the next year. In many respects, it’s not mysterious — it’s simply going to be another iteration of the steady, solid, fairly popular Nissan LEAF. But the car is mysterious for a couple of reasons that skirt below the surface:
1) It is widely expected but still not 100% confirmed that the 2019 LEAF will have a thermally managed battery (for the first time) that holds up well in the face of heat and fast charging and has well over 200 miles of driving range.
2) If that’s the case, it’s unclear what Nissan will do on the lower LEAF trims. Will those trims use this battery as well and keep the same basic price segmentation as years past? Or will they use the 2018 battery for the base trim and have a significantly lower base price that perhaps makes the LEAF the first $25,000 or cheaper car with 150 miles or more? Or will they use the new battery across trims but still drop the price a bit, perhaps down to a $27,000 base price?
Speculating about sales is always hard, but it’s notably harder without knowing prices or driving ranges. Nonetheless, I’m so curious about the matter — probably even more than I am curious about Tesla Model 3 sales in 2019, due to the greater mystery — that I felt compelled to pose the question to you thoughtful readers. And I’ll put my own thin neck out there for some properly hazardous public guesses as well.
If the base Nissan LEAF is again offered at an MSRP of ~$30,000, but this time has 200+ miles of range, I’ll estimate 3,000–5,000 US sales a month.
If Nissan offers the 150 mile LEAF for an MSRP of $25,000, and then the longer range LEAF from $30,000 and up, I’m going to guess 7,000–10,000 US sales a month — presuming Nissan doesn’t have a supply problem. (Though, I consider this scenario highly unlikely and doubt Nissan would have the battery supply even if it did go this aggressive route.)
If Nissan keeps the 150 mile LEAF as the $30,000 option and uses the 200+ mile LEAF with the thermally managed battery for the $32,000–36,000 SV & SL trims, I assume Nissan will see 1,000–3,000 sales a month.
All three trims currently use a 40 kWh battery for a rated range of 150 miles.
The SV and SL each have a quick charge port.
The SL trim has a charging cable for 240 volt charging instead of 120 volt charging.
The sound systems improve from one trim to the next.
The SL trim has blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The SL trim has LED headlights and heated outside mirrors.
The SV and SL trims have bigger wheels with nicer rims.
The big question, aside from whether or not a 200+ mile LEAF with thermally managed batteries will really be on the market next year, is whether Nissan will lower the pricing on all three trims to be more competitive or will at least add a lower end price for a 150 mile LEAF. Either move could significantly boost LEAF sales in the era of the Model 3. Without a significant price drop, LEAF sales will probably just keep trickling along since the car will have too hard a time competing in a price bracket anywhere close to the Tesla Model 3.
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