COO “Disappointed And Frustrated” At Slow Nissan Leaf Sales


It is no secret that sales of the pure-electric Nissan Leaf haven’t been exactly earth-shattering. After an initial rush of enthusiasm, sales of the Nissan Leaf have tapered off substantially. This has left Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga feeling “disappointed and frustrated” with Leaf sales.

Who can blame him? Nissan has reportedly sank over a billion dollars into developing and marketing the Nissan Leaf. Yet since hitting the international market in the last month of 2010, Nissan has sold just 42,700 units, almost half of those (about 19,000) in Japan. In the U.S. Leaf sales have topped 16,000, while Europe has seen just over 6,500 units delivered.

Sales are far off from initial projections. Nissan had expected to sell 40,000 Leaf EVs in 2012, but instead they have barely broached that number in two full years on the market. That has got to hurt, especially considering that Nissan has built a brand new factory in Tennessee with the capacity to build 150,000 Leaf EVs annually.

Speaking to a crowd gathered to hear Nissan’s mid-term sales reports, Shiga said;

“Somewhere in the history of mankind, people will have to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and Nissan is assuming the risk to do it now. We were the first volume maker deploy EVs globally. Please don’t forget that we have this passion and a sense of mission.”

Basically…we tried to do right by mankind, but turns out nobody wants to buy our innovative EV. All hope isn’t lost, as a 2013 Leaf is expected to be unveiled next month. With more range and a potentially lower price for entry, coupled with a new $199 a month lease, Nissan Leaf sales could rebound big time in 2013. If President Obama turns the $7,500 EV tax credit into a $10,000 on-the-spot rebate, EV sales could soar. Nissan even has a special task force dedicated to figuring out why Leaf sales aren’t living up to expectations.

But will it come in time to save the Nissan Leaf? While I think it is a little early to be writing off electric vehicles, it seems as though the market isn’t ready to start driving EVs on the scale Nissan imagined.

Source: The Truth About Cars

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • TemK

    Battery performance in hot and cold weather might cause potential LEAF buyers to reassess.

  • Markw

    The Leaf is a great produce, but the Anti EV mood in the US is thick enough to cut with a knife; amazing what millions of foreign petro dollars can buy …

  • Benoit Essiambre

    I know this is subjective, but I find the Leaf one of the ugliest car I have ever seen.

    Look at the curves on the side there is no symmetry, no uniformity or orderliness. It is shaped like a malformed bumpy potato.

    Otherwise this type of car excites me. I also think the price needs to be a bit lower however I would have no problem paying what they pay in California for it if it was less ugly.

    • Dan Williams

      I agree. If Nissan would give it a face-lift, I might not be embarrassed to drive one.

    • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think it’s a good looking car. Always cracks me up when I hear people describe the Prius as ugly. I often marvel at its demonstrably clean aerodynamic shape, but I’m an aerospace engineer. I think the 787 is a thing of beauty.

  • Nixon

    Nissan made a great City EV that also has short highway capablilities that met the minimum requirements to get California CARB credits. But they still need to make it better to meet the minimum requirements of mass consumers.

    Yes, there are all kinds of political games muddying the waters. But a clearly superior product would trump those distractions. I’m looking forward to Gen 1.5 being unveiled soon.

  • Benoit Essiambre

    I tried smoothing out the lumpy with photoshop. Doesn’t it look better this way?:

    • DaveD

      Benoit, I actually like your version! It’s also a shame they did the strange headlight thing considering it’s only meant for noise reduction around the side view mirrors. And they only make noise at highway speeds where the Leaf doesn’t spend much time anyway 🙂

    • Ya know, that actually is a better looking, but you appear to have compromised trunk space and headroom to get it. Engineering is the art of compromise.

  • DaveD

    I think that a true 100 mile range at a slightly lower price would easily double the number of people who could consider it. They are SO close. People just feel more comfortable when you cross milestones. 100 miles of range isn’t just 27 more miles than 73…emotionally it’s a huge increase to be over the “century mark”!

    We just think in terms of round, milestone type numbers by nature.

    • DaveD

      Case in point: Who has heard of Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile?

      Now quickly: Who first ran under 3 minutes, 59 seconds? What is the world record for the mile today? What is the world record for 1,500 meters? Who has the record? Who cares.

      We like our round number “barriers”.

  • Elp Tique is appropriately named. It is about gas and ICE cars, not about EVs. Another false green website.
    Why don’t you talk about the satisfaction of the LEAF owners? The fact we charge it with Solar Panels? The fact we save, in avg, $3000/a year? The fact that we finally can say “not in my name” for all of the wars, politics and stupidity of a oisl based transportation system?
    For your information, LEAFs in NY do not need gas, do not wait in line and are actually helping fellow NYers.
    The only thing that LEAFs need are EV quick charging stations. That is it! Give us those and the LEAF is just like any other car… pardon me. MUCH BETTER.

    • Christopher DeMorro

      @ Elp Tique

      What about the title “Gas2” leads you to believe we’d be solely about EVs? There are literally hundreds of alternatives to petrol that aren’t limited to battery-electric vehicles. There is nothing “false” about our excitement in following the world of green automobiles. Yes, we cover some petrol powered cars, but only if they offer a measureable improvement in fuel efficiency via either hybrid drivetrains or new ICE technologies.

      If you want a website focused solely on electric vehicles, there are plenty of those. We’ve covered many of the benefits of electric vehicles here on, but I also feel I have a duty to present both the good and bad news.

      And right now, there is a lot of bad news for electric cars. I live in the real world, and in the real world, Nissan isn’t happy with Leaf sales. Blame it on high costs, limited range, or poor marketing, but don’t blame me for covering relevant news as it is presented. And I think if one of Nissan’s top executives is already unhappy with sales just two years into their billion-dollar EV project, it is an important story.

      • David Carter

        Your real world consists of driving a car other than the Nissan LEAF. Therefore, you have to stop at a gas station and spend a bunch of $$ breathing gas fumes.


      • Elp Tique

        Really Chris? You ask me such question? OK. Your main page says: “This time it’s personal (strikedthrough) SUSTAINABLE” with a clear picture of PV modules. Also, you called it GAS 2, indicating an evolution. In the real world there are two type of cars: renewable (sustainable, like my LEAF powered by PV modules) and non renewable, which use a plethora of fossil fuels (gas if you wish). Even veggie cars use a fuel that can be considered not perfectly sustainable and those still fall under the ICE paradigm. Same with Hydrogen, Fuel Cell, etc.
        So, clearly your website in not appropriately named.

        I do not ask anything of you but I comment as I please being you have such option and my comment stands. The COO unhappyness is irrelevant to the public. The consumers’ opinion, the true judges, is what matters and so far the response is overwhelmingly positive. Granted Nissan needs to do a better job at promoting its product starting with commercials. For example, saying the simple fact that the LEAF can drive 75miles (EPA) on 24Kwh which is the equivalent of 0.656 gallons of gas would go a long way to tell people how they are taken.
        To put it with the words of a comedian: ICE cars are stoves on wheels.
        EV+PV THIS time is SUSTAINABLE.

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  • harrismax

    They could try making a car that *doesn’t* look like a deformed catfish. People don’t want ugly cars (eco-nonsense or not).

    • Jo Borras

      Eco-nonsense? I think you’re on the wrong site. Also: they’re selling fine now that the price dropped from bringing production to the US.

      • harrismax

        Still won’t work. The changes they’ve announced amount to little more than putting lipstick on a pig.

        People won’t buy a hideous car that leaves them stranded after 75 miles. (Who could have guessed!?)

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