By Jay Ramey, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Jan. 27, 2014) — Nissan Motor Co. has delivered the 100,000th Leaf to a customer in the United Kingdom, reaching a milestone for the pure electric car that seems to be leaving other EVs in its wake.
Now, the pure electric Leaf is on sale in 35 countries on four continents, and it has captured 45 percent market share for pure electric vehicles.
Amy Eichenberger of Charlottesville, Va., was the 99,999th Nissan Leaf buyer, picking out a Glacier White example at her local dealership for her 10-mile daily commute.
“I have friends I like to visit in Richmond, which I can do in the Leaf with some planning, and in D.C., which I’ll do in my son’s or boyfriend’s car,” Ms. Eichenberger said. “Leaf will meet my needs 98 percent of the time, and I didn’t want to let a little range anxiety prevent me from missing out on what I consider a much more progressive and forward-thinking vehicle than any of the alternatives.”
The 100,000th Leaf buyer was Dr. Brett Garner in Fareham, U.K.
“I have chosen my Nissan Leaf because I am very interested in its running costs,” Dr. Garner said. “The cost of ownership, such as maintenance, insurance and charging also convinced my wife. She had the experience of driving 500 miles in a borrowed Leaf and the low cost was remarkable. So she was converted and insisted that we had a Leaf.”
Leaf sales started out slowly when the zero-emission car reached dealerships in December 2010, but demand has grown steadily to the point where stateside Nissan dealerships began reporting stock shortages six months ago.
In August 2013 Nissan considered moving to increase production of the electric car at its Tennessee plant, just as sales reached approximately 2,000 units a month—about double the sales volume of August 2012. Interestingly enough, the Leaf’s number one market in the U.S. has been Atlanta.
“With Leaf, we see a high level of organic growth and viral sales where Leaf owners become our best evangelists and salespeople,” said Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of EV Sales and Marketing. “With electric vehicles, many folks presume a 100-percent electric vehicle won’t meet their needs until they chat with a neighbor, co-worker or family friend who loves their Leaf and explain its practicality, and then it goes on their consideration list.”
A year ago this week, Nissan cut the price of the Leaf by $6,400 to stimulate sales, and this price cut remains in effect for the 2014 model year Leaf. The 2014 Leaf starts at $29,830 and has a range 84 miles on a full charge, coming in at 126 mpge in the city—mpge stands for miles-per-gallon equivalent, the rating being the official way of comparing gasoline and electric cars’ fuel efficiency—and 101 mpge on the highway, for a combined rating of 114.
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.