This month Nissan is celebrating its 75,000th Leaf sold in the United States and – pending March sales results in a couple weeks – the car may also now be the top-seller both globally and nationally as it has been trending in that direction.
But a Nissan press release doesn’t talk about the unofficial race with the Chevy Volt which led Nissan by a mere two units sold at 74,592 Volts to 74,590 Leafs at the end of February since their December 2010 respective launches.
Rather, Nissan marked the milestone with an enthusiastic buyer in Portland Ore., Rishabh Mehandru, who purchased this second one after his first Leaf’s lease expired after two years.
“When the lease was up on my first Nissan Leaf, I knew that I didn’t want any other car. I had to have another Nissan Leaf,” said Mehandru. “I love how quickly I can get up to speed on the highway—even my three-year-old son notices how zippy it is—and I like that I don’t have to stop for gas.”
Mehandru was quoted as saying the zero-emissions aspect was also a main draw in his decision to go gas free.
“I’m a runner, and when I ran outside I found that I was inhaling a lot of exhaust from the gas-powered cars that passed me on the roads,” said Mehandru. “I instantly became aware of the amount of fuel I was burning, and that’s when I first decided that I wanted to get an electric car.”
New Number One?
Nissan has put out press releases at various U.S. and global milestones before, globally it has sold around 160,000 to the Volt/Ampera’s 90,000 in rough numbers, and it is closing in on the Volt’s home turf.
It is very likely the Leaf is the top selling plug-in car in the U.S. by cumulative volume since launch but that will be known soon enough.
Last month the Leaf beat the Volt with 1,198 to 693 sales, and in January it was 1,070 to 542. It is possible the Volt will outsell the Leaf but the recent trend has been Leaf selling two-to-one as the Volt endures lame duck status while the Leaf continues to sell relatively better.
Both cars are just as old, both have received updates, discounts, and both have vied neck and neck – trading places along the way with the Leaf suffering a whole year in 2012 while the Volt doubled its sales.
But the Leaf has been coming on strong the past 20 months, exceeding its old year-over-year sales and Nissan has hit a stride which it will have to ride out until the next generation Leaf arrives, possibly for 2017.
Meanwhile the 2015 Volt is doing OK considering General Motors long ago stopped advertising it everywhere except California and its dealers have a hit-or-miss reputation for supporting the car. But a 2016 Volt waits in the wings so there may be a turnabout around this summer.
Here on the first day of spring however, it is the Leaf’s day to shine, and Nissan – which advertises and promotes the Leaf more thoroughly, says momentum continues for what may be America’s and the world’s best-selling plug-in.
“Rishabh’s enthusiasm for his Leaf is a perfect example of what we call the cul-de-sac effect,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure. “With more and more Nissan Leaf owners on the road, we see shoppers coming in already educated on Leaf’s benefits because they got to drive one that belongs to a friend or neighbor. It’s that kind of word-of-mouth that really drives Nissan Leaf sales.”
(Did you notice that one quote put out by Nissan had the name “Leaf” repeated four times? That’s not bad for search engine optimization.)