Ghosn: Nissan Leaf On Track For 36,000 Sales This Year

Yesterday as Nissan announced minor updates and pricing for its all-electric Leaf, the company’s CEO said he can foresee 2013’s record sales of 22,610 units being eclipsed by more than 50 percent in 2014, and double that presumably not long after.

The occasion was a CNBC interview, and Carlos Ghosn was commenting in light of Nissan having more than doubled its 2012 sales performance of 9,819 deliveries, and said 2014 won’t be as radical, but significant growth is still coming.

“We are now on a trend of 3,000 cars a month in the U.S., which is about 36,000 cars,” [per year], said Ghosn.

If that’s literally true, Nissan has yet to actually do it. Its December 2013 performance of 2,519 Leafs delivered was its all-time best month, but then Nissan’s marketers know the behind-the-scenes picture as well.

Stoking the optimistic flames, Ghosn added the Leaf’s sales will keep rising above the 36,000 projected for 2014 to more than double its present record of 22,610 – which itself averages to less than 2,000 per month.

“The next step is moving up to 4,000 a month, which is going to be approximately 50,000,” said Ghosn.

Despite any reports to the contrary, Ghosn did not set a target date for the doubling, however.

It should also be noted Nissan’s most-recent 2013 calendar year record came after 2012 sales that were essentially flat from the year prior.

Deliveries in 2012 of 9,819 Leafs compares to 9,674 deliveries in 2011, its first full sales year.

The turnaround came with the Leaf’s price reductions in January 2013. At that time, the automaker cut prices for SV and SL trim levels, and introduced the Leaf S for $6,000 less than the lowest-priced 2012 model.

This plus U.S. assembly helped turn on the sales volume and the formula is still being banked upon, as Ghosn’s statement’s indicate.

Among othr random helps, Nissan buyers in its new number one market, Atlanta, also get a nice deal from Georgia Power which is actively promoting plug-in cars.

This adds to more often than not positive personal testimonials, and Leaf buyers around the country are also learning total cost of ownership can be positive, especially with federal and state subsidies where available.

Beyond that, Ghosn has always been bullish on electric cars, but if he at all exaggerates on the 3,000 per month, this will be shown in the next couple months.

To date, the 3,000 unit mark has been a virtual barrier both the Leaf and the loosely comparable extended-range Volt have butted up against.

At this point, given Nissan’s consistent growth, and opening of new markets outside of California, its upward trend does not rule out the possibility of 36,000 U.S. Leaf sales in 2014.