Nissan has smashed its best calendar-year U.S. sales record in its fourth year on the market with 30,200 units sold for 2014.
Last year it sold 22,610 Leafs and this is the first time any plug-in has sold over 30,000 – and it would appear to defy any notion that the first-generation electric car might be perceived as longer in the tooth and ready for update as might be the case with the Chevy Volt.
The Leaf’s 3,102 December sales were up 22.7 percent over December 2013’s 2,529. This compares to the Chevrolet Volt’s calendar year 2014 sales of 18,805 units and December sales of 1,490 units.
By contrast, the Volt’s 2013 sales were 23,094 so it’s down 18.6 percent for the year, and its December 2013 sales were 2,392, meaning Volt declined 37.7 percent during a month GM described as a “blockbuster” for the brand that was otherwise up 19 percent.
Does this demonstrate the power of market perception for the Leaf and against the Volt? Or does it suggest all-electric is more desirable to buyers than plug-in extended-range electric?
Both cars were launched the same month of December 2010 but it is well known GM is preparing a revised 2016 Volt to go on sale around next summer and has long-since pulled advertising support out from under it in most markets except California.
That could help partially explain market perception not to mention the Volt starts roughly $5,000 more than the Leaf which is offered through Nissan at lower rate lease prices.
Variables besides these could be considered to explain the why the Leaf is flourishing and the Volt is not but this is the case.
Despite having a product just as old, and with EV range of 84 miles which many fence sitters have said is too low, Nissan has been increasing its Leaf sales last year and this with numerous month-over month sales records. Unlike for the Volt, Nissan is advertising and promoting the Leaf in several key markets although it has refused to disclose all these marketing activities in detail.
In any case, the formula appears to be working in qualified terms.
“Now in its fifth model year, Nissan Leaf is more popular than ever and continues to bring new buyers to Nissan,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure. “From the beginning our vision was to bring electric vehicles to the mass market in a practical and fun-to-drive package, which is what makes Nissan Leaf the best-selling electric car in the world.”