LEAF sales gain in March

by Ernie Hernandez on April 3, 2012

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Nissan LEAF records 579 sales in March

With the introduction of the Nissan LEAF to the remaining states this month, making it the first electric vehicle (EV) from a major manufacturer available in all 50 states, one might have expected the sales numbers to jump up dramatically this month. That is, unless one is familiar with the process that Nissan is using to sell the LEAF.

LEAF sales in March were 579, up from 298 in March 2011, and up from 478 the month before. A nice improvement, but perhaps not one some would have expected. But then again, the distribution method must be taken into account. The LEAF is still a special order vehicle in the majority of the country. Which means that one orders the LEAF and waits for its arrival in 90 to 120 days. So, in other words, all of those folks across the country who got to order their car this month, will see it arrive at their dealership in June or July, or possibly even later than that, which is when we will see the impact of these new orders. That is when they will be tallied as sales – not on the date that they are ordered. We expect this special order system to remain in place until the Smyrna, Tennessee LEAF plant comes on line later this year. Even then, it will take six months or more to get any sizeable LEAF production out of the plant. If the ramp up schedule is anything similar to that experienced in Oppama, currently the only plant to produce the car, look for an excrutiatingly slow ramp up as each and every car produced is looked at closely to prevent any lapse in quality. Once Nissan is producing the car in the United States, and has a better understanding of the demand for the vehicle, look for dealerships to start stocking the LEAF in inventory just like any other new car. We expect this to happen sometime mid next year. Until that time, your choices are to order one and wait patiently (or impatiently) or call your local dealership to see if they have any orphans – cars ordered but never delivered for whatever reason. In all of the new markets just opened this month, don’t look for any orphans until July or August, if then. It’s not too likely that the early adopters in any state will leave their LEAF unplucked.

On a side note, according to industry sales figures, Nissan passed Honda in the United States in March to become the fifth largest automobile manufacturer behind the domestic big three and Toyota. Why does this matter? If you are considering buying a new technology vehicle, you do want to buy it from a going concern, don’t you? Also,  Nissan corporation sales in the United States for the month of March were the greatest in any single month in Nissan’s history. Congratulations Nissan.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Twohy April 4, 2012 at 7:25 am

Ernie,

Thank you for the information and the reminder about the ordering process. It is easy for me to forget that when I see sales figures compared to the other vehicles out there. These cars were probably ordered in December or January.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) April 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

It will be interesting to see what the sales numbers look like in June and July.

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Tom K April 5, 2012 at 4:29 am

The Nissan dealer in my area has a black and silver LEAF sitting on their lot for quite a while. I can’t wait to see LEAF sales in the 1000’s per month, although that may be some time to come. So where are all the public chargers for the future multitudes of EVs??

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) April 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Tom, we have a Google alert set on LEAF and electric vehicles, and we see news about charging stations going in all over the country. We don’t report on them all, but take a look at the PlugShare site for one of the best representations of charger locations (both public and shared private charging stations).

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Tom K April 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks for the good reading Ernie. I am quite “connected” to the EVSEs around the region as I plug in away from home more than half of the 17k miles on my LEAF so far. I carry a battery of modified EVSEs and adapters to get juice from various sources including the old AVCON sites. I report and update these sites at the usual sources (Plug Share, EV Charger Finder, Recargo, CarStations, etc.). I have noticed an increase in contributions and updates from the expanding “fleet” of EV owners on these sites too. The current deployment of EVSE locations, including L2 and quick charge DC, remains lethargic at best…..

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Warren April 5, 2012 at 7:58 am

If you live in the ‘burbs, in the US, and have only one car, a PHEV makes the most sense. If you live in town, a 55 mph NEV would make most sense, if they were legal here…rent a car for going to grandma’s.

The Leaf is trying to be something it is not, a touring car. If you need an on-board navigation system for a car that has a 35 mile range radius from your front door, you shouldn’t be driving!

Carlos Ghosn, give us a 500 kilogram, 10-12 kWh, two seat, town car for 18K!

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) April 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Warren, navigation systems are extremely useful for shortening the distance and time used for around town trips as well as long distance treks. We’ve used ours in our 2004 Quest these past eight years and have discovered local routes that we might not have thought to use otherwise. Currently, we know of no one that makes a 55 mph NEV (though the smart electric car is not far off). Nissan has developed the LandGlider concept which is conceptually similar to what you desire, though there is no mention of power, weight or price. Remember, we are still in the infancy of the EV. Time will produce a much broader choice, just as it has with the gasoline powered automobile.

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Warren April 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I would need to drive an electric car 10,000 miles a year, for eight years, to break even compared to a comparable gas car, since I am buying the battery up front. I am almost 65. They had better hurry! 🙂

I hate cars, and wish they had never been invented. But I have almost 3,000 miles on my electric assist bicycle, since I finished it in October. All my life I wanted to be as fast as pro bike racers…now I am.

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IndyFlick April 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Break even? Who really gives a rat crap about breaking even when you buy a new car? I’ve never ever ever ever seen a commercial for a new car which showed an economic analysis. I’ve seen performance, sex, safety, and lifestyle but never break even.

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Sasparilla April 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

Here’s a great interview with Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn yesterday (4-4-2012) at the New York auto show. It starts out talking about the new maxima but shifts pretty quickly to the Leaf. Good stuff.

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000082349&play=1

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Larry Cook April 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I ordered my Leaf in New Hampshire on 3/13 and was called on 3/30 that it had arrived at the dealer. Only 17 days! That made me think there was more supply than demand. I checked a few other dealers and found an orphan due to the orderer relocating to Hawaii. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it helped me negotiate a lower price than my original quote.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) April 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Larry – Welcome to Living LEAF. 17 days! You’re right – they must be filling at least some of those orders with vehicles that are already stateside. While they may be able to do that for some, we don’t expect that to be the case for everyone.

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Larry Cook April 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Re: If you need an on-board navigation system for a car that has a 35 mile range radius from your front door, you shouldn’t be driving!

I will be using mine to get to my kid’s sports games at other schools. The 73 mile range will allow me to get to work then to about 90% of the away schools and then back home.

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IndyFlick April 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Larry, I’ve owned my LEAF since Jan 2011 and I’ve driven over 100 miles on a charge many times, many owners have. Also now there are far more public charging stations which is beginning to make range a non issue.

You’ll likely find the navigation system really helps for a lot of daily driving to location you may not frequent. I use it a lot.

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Warren April 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I just read a post on the new Smart ForTwo EV. Claims it will come in under $26,000. If the pack is big enough to qualify it for the tax credit, it will be under my $18,000 drop dead limit for a car. I think the Smart is one of the only sensible cars in the US, though I hear the ICE version tranny is junk.

My cars, since 1972, have been three Datsun 510’s and a Sentra E. As much as I respect Carlos Ghosn for his commitment to EV’s, the Leaf is too damn big.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) April 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Warren – Here’s a link to all current federal tax incentives on EVs. The Smart Fortwo EV qualifies for the full $7,500, but I don’t know that it is available in all areas. In fact, I’m not sure that it is available to the public at all at the moment.

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