Nissan’s 1,347 December Leaf sales were a bump upwards from 1,054 units in November, but a far cry from 3,102 in December 2014.
In its heyday, the world’s best-selling EV would typically do high teens to well into the 2,000s or low 3,000s on a given month, but for the past several months has been a shell of its former self.
Will the 2016 model with increased range help? Nissan says since the latter half of November its 2016 Leaf with up to 107-miles range for SV and SL trims has been available.
Its upgraded 30-kwh battery is a boost over 84 miles from 2015 models and carried over to the 2016 S trim Leaf, but it is a stop gap measure that may not fully revive slumping Leaf sales.
Nissan did not offer the breakout of 2015 and 2016 model years when asked, but said it anticipates an uptick in sales with the new 2016 cars now in dealerships nationwide while offering some reasons for still comparatively low volume.
“Low fuel prices continue to have an effect on EV sales, and historically the winter months have also had an impact on EV sales,” said Paige Presley of Nissan EV and Technology Communications.
Not said, but also in the mix are the prospects of higher-range EVs such as the Chevy Bolt to be shown tomorrow at the Consumer Electronics Show, and to be on sale by end of this year.
The Leaf’s present 84-107 miles range is still relatively competitive, and leasing a Leaf remains a possibility, but some may be sitting it out. The retail sales price for the 107-mile Leaf is just over $35,000 and Chevrolet is touting a 200-mile EV for about $2,500 more by year’s end.
This combined with other factors such as the Leaf’s relatively low resale value, availability of cheap used Leafs, and concerns periodically documented over range degradation from a battery not liquid cooled may also be tempering factors to new Leaf sales.
Nissan meanwhile is offering inexpensive lease deals, discounts, and a No Charge to Charge promo with free charging for two years in select markets.
Whether Nissan is able to raise the sales volume to 2,000-3,000-plus units as was the case in its best months remains to be seen.
Nissan has not stated officially when to expect a next-generation Leaf, but unofficial indicators have some pinning a year of 2018 – not 2017 – on that 200-plus-mile range competitor to the Bolt and Tesla Model 3, assuming it too comes as soon as is hoped.