Nissan Execs Were “Arrogant” About EV Market


It is no secret that Nissan has been disappointed with sales of the Nissan Leaf EV, falling well short of executive expectations. This has lead Nissan in recent weeks to pull back and re-evaluate their electric vehicle sales plan, as well as leading some executives to admit that their U.S. strategy was “…a little bit arrogant.”

The arrogance has to do with Nissan’s bold 50-state rollout plan, which the Japanese automaker expected to lead to increasing sales across the U.S. Initially, Nissan rolled out the Leaf to EV-friendly areas of the country like Hawaii, California, and the Pacific Northwest. By fall of 2011 though, the Leaf was for sale in every state, regardless of infrastructure or interest.

This has led to less-than-hoped-for sales, with Nissan executives expressing disappointment that their mass market EV hasn’t had the market penetration they hoped for. Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn had predicted sales of 20,000 Leafs this year, though Nissan hasn’t even hit half of that number yet.

The problem stems from the assumption that there were people in every state eagerly awaiting the arrival of electric vehicles. As it turns out, the initial wave of early adopters gave way to a more tepid response. Stabilizing gas prices and a series of plug-in car debacles probably haven’t helped matters.

But Nissan seems committed to the Leaf EV, pledging a new strategy going forward. With their new Tennessee factory capable of producing 150,000 Leaf EVs and batteries annually, the Japanese automaker doesn’t really have much choice in the matter. The question is, are buyers willing to commit?

Source: Automotive News

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.

  • Dan Williams

    I think Nissan executives should admit that their Leaf EV is “…a little bit ugly.” That probably would go a long way to explain why sales are so low. Why would someone buy a car that turns their stomach, no matter how environmentally friendly it is? Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from buying Scions so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. But personally, the embarrassment quotient of driving such a demoralizingly hideous contraption outweighs any green-leanings I may have toward my transportation options. I’d rather buy a Volt or Coda. Neither of those plug-in vehicles are head-turners, but the Leaf is a head-shaker. Nissan should redesign the car to not remind me of a fat smurf with graves disease. Then maybe I’ll buy one.

    • These guys who feel compelled to tell others what is good looking think they have an some kind of heightened ascetic sense. I’ve also noticed that they tend to find attractive, cars that look pretty much like the average car, like the Volt. Ergo, they wold have found the Model T very attractive in its day.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve gotten hundreds of compliments on my Leaf …from women which was totally not expected. I’ve had dozens sit in it at a car show. Women could usually care less about cars. I think the Leaf is a good looking car, but it isn’t what I think that really matters ; )

  • Markw

    Don’t forget the very active, and well funding naysayers. When even a publicity traded oil company like chevron thinks its in its shareholders best interest to donate $2.5 million dollars to a coupe of right wing nut anything but a chevy volt / nissan leaf ” non profits” , well you can fill in the rest…,

    Or did you think the likes of the NLPC ran on unicorn farts?

    It’s big money vs new tech, only time will tell…

  • Marc P.

    True “greens”, willing to sacrifice convenience for the planet are few and far between. Does the Nissan Leaf deliver the same characteristics of a gas based car for the same price ? For “Joe somebody”, that’s what it comes down to, plain an simple.

    Since the answer to that question is a resounding NO…, the Leaf won’t be a “mass market product” for quite some time.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great addition to a well off family as a second car for groceries and getting to work if it happens to be close (oh, and unless you live in the desert).

  • Dave

    Gotta agree with with Dan 100%. Good aesthetics has got to be part of the equation. I’m making my purchase next Fall. Right now it’s the Volt. It’s a shame the the Fusion’s mileage number’s are so far off. That’s a nice looking car and I had been leaning toward their plug-in. My Honda NGV has been a great commuter but the tank is expiring in a few years and it’s time for something a little more comfortable. Can’t wait to see the new Caddy.

  • Waiting for the Tesla Gen III…

  • David

    I would buy one in a heartbeat. Cannot afford it right now, and my apartment are does not have outside plugins I could access. The EV pays for itself easily over time compared to petrol. also, we have a lot of air pollution. Can’t wait to own an EV. Soon.

  • James

    Nissan execs have successfully found the inflection point of the elasticity of demand curve for the Leaf. It was a horrible idea to raise the price of the 2012 model.

    I own a Leaf and have still not decided if it is cute or ugly in much the same way I see a pug dog. I think it is much better looking than the Coda.

  • No liquid battery cooling system…no sale…


  • Dennis

    I have almost 15,000 miles on my Leaf in 8 months. While it’s not our only car it must be our primary because we (two drivers) put less than 4,000 miles on the other two in that time. Of course they mostly got that use because of trips and towing.
    I didn’t buy the Leaf because it’s a great looking car, it is growing on me and most everyone that I talk to about says it looks great. Have you looked at Nissan’s other cars? The Leaf isn’t much different from the rest of the lineup.
    I don’t think people know of the car and what it can do and that is Nissan’s fault.
    I also feel Nissan has to get their dealers heads out of their !@#$% about locking their chargers. How do you sell a car with no infrastructure and point to your free charging that you can’t use because it’s locked??

    • ronwagn

      How long do you think your payback will be for the amount of extra money you paid? An electric would meet my local need, but not for travel. I am holding out for a CNG minivan or SUV if the price is not too high. There should be very little price difference for CNG or bifuel cars.

  • Brian Keez

    There are many people that are still waiting. Mostly due to the ‘unknown’ performance of an all electric car. I drive over 500 miles per week in my LEAF so I’m amazed when people with 30 mile commutes are unsure if the car would work for them.
    When more CHAdeMO quick chargers are available, as the EVproject promised, more cars will be sold. I think that Nissan staked part of their marketing strategy on the EVproject meeting at least part of it’s stated goals.

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