Nissan’s big electric car bet isn’t paying off, and the Japanese automaker knows it. After yet another month of sales failing to sell 1,000 Nissan Leaf EVs, executives at Nissan have given up its modest goal of selling 20,000 EVs in the U.S. this year.
Instead, Nissan is focusing on an outreach program with current customers, as well as those who showed interest but didn’t buy a Leaf EV to figure out where they went wrong.
A recent survey sent out to Nissan Leaf owners and handraisers (those who are interested in EVs, but haven’t bought them) asks questions about price point, battery range, and concerns with purchasing EVs.
The survey also asks if the addition of a car-sharing service for Leaf owners to use for long range trips would make owning an EV more appealing. It seems Nissan is pretty desperate to get Leaf sales back on track, and the automaker has reason to be concerned.
Even before battery troubles in Arizona led to a mini-rebellion among EV owners, Nissan Leaf sales have been pretty awful all year in the U.S. In fact, through the first three quarters of 2012, Nissan has sold just 5,212 units, a decline of almost 28% versus last year. That is a steep decline for a car that Nissan put a lot of money and effort into, including a new factory in Tennessee with an annual capacity of 150,000 units per year.
While Leaf sales worldwide have broken more than 40,000 units, that is only two-thirds of the 60,000 sales Nissan expected. It turns out an expensive electric car with a limited driving range has a very limited appeal among customers. It doesn’t help that the European economy is killing car sales, or that Americans in general are skeptical of electric vehicles.
What can Nissan do to turn their fortunes around? Or are EVs looking more and more like a dead-end technology?