Six years ago Nissan were one of only three manufacturers that sold electric vehicles and the LEAF established itself as a leading EV the world over, especially in the USA where sales took off in 2013/14.
Fast forward six years and we find that in the first half of 2016 Nissan’s electric cars account for just 0.73% of it US sales and now trail other established automakers such as BMW (3.48%), Volvo (2.75%) and GM (0.81%) in selling EV’s in America.
So what happened to cause this fall from grace?
Lack of Choice
Since 2013, Nissan’s electric vehicle program has stood still with no new models coming to market. Even today they still only have one electric vehicle for sale in America, the LEAF. By contrast BMW are selling four plug in vehicles, GM have two for sale with a third (Bolt EV) coming off the assembly line and due on dealer lots by year end. One size does not fit all, not everyone wants a small hatchback.
Other EV manufacturers have vehicles that can go significantly further than the LEAF on a single charge and at a similar price, the LEAF is simply not competitive anymore. If you stand still, you fall behind.
Poor resale values
The Nissan LEAF has the worst resale value of any car bar none. This is a deterrent to new car sales.
Poor Battery Performance
Despite assurances from Nissan that battery deterioration will moderate as the car ages, the LEAF’s have deteriorated continually in the US and by more than any other electric vehicle on the market. Only a handful of LEAF’s have reached 100,000 miles and all of those vehicles have experienced advanced battery degradation, typically losing 50% of original range. Vehicles from GM and Tesla have driven 150,000 and 200,000 miles respectively and experienced little or no battery degradation or loss of vehicle range.The 200,000 mile Tesla experienced just 6% battery degradation.
By contrast LEAF’s in Europe have fared much better due to the milder climate and sales of the LEAF continue to grow.
The LEAF just can’t take the heat in the US.
With the 2017 Renault Zoe coming to market this year with almost double the LEAF’s 107 mile range, one wonders if the LEAF will still be a hit in Europe. Competition is heating up both sides of the pond.
Low Dealer Inventory
In September 2016 dealer inventory of the LEAF across the US averaged 1,500 units. This is the lowest LEAF inventory in a long time. In December 2014 Nissan sold 3,102 LEAF’s, with just 1,500 on dealer lots today this is simply not possible anymore.
Nissan seem to be retreating from the market. We can only speculate as to why they would reduce inventory.