Last year and this, the Nissan Leaf has been catching up to the Chevrolet Volt in cumulative U.S. sales, and this week the Japanese automaker announced its 50,000th sold to two church employees deep in the heart of Texas.
As of April, the Volt was ahead by about 10,000 units since the cars’ respective December 2010 launch– 59,706 Volts versus 49,394 Leafs – although the Leaf, with almost 115,000 sold globally is the world sales leader, and could in time take over in the U.S. as well.
The 50k milestone U.S. Leaf was bought by one of the pastors at the Southlake campus of the large, Charismatic, multi-campus Gateway church, Todd Bolt, and his wife Lisa, also a church employee.
The Bolts’ Leaf added to the “Blessed Leafs Club,” a name jokingly bestowed by more than 20 Gateway church employees who are now Leaf owners in the organization with weekly attendance last year of 24,000 across its five campuses.
Employees at the church began buying Leafs after an executive pastor at the church did the math, Nissan said, and started a trend.
“Beyond the simple economics of not buying gas, we’ve been impressed with how well the Leaf drives,” said Todd. “When we show the Leaf off to family and friends, they’re surprised that the car is so quiet and rides so well. The Leaf does everything we need day-to-day, and given the financial savings, I don’t know why we’d buy another gas car.”
As members also of the general population of Texas, the Bolts and other Gateway Church employees are part of a larger demographic trend favoring EVs in that state.
Texas is a “hot growth market” said Nissan – almost certainly with no pun intended – and the automaker cites “enthusiastic owner advocates, robust public charging infrastructure and the launch of a successful free charging promotion.”
This latter incentive – free charging – is a reference to No Charge to Charge, a promo Nissan is running for new Leaf buyers giving them free access to a national network of public charging for two years. After initial success in Houston and Dallas, the company in April announced a wider roll-out to more markets.
Sales in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex – now one of 10 launch markets and counting for the free charging perk – have increased by about 50 percent over last year, Nissan said, noting also a new state tax rebate of $2,500 is also helping things along.
“With ‘No Charge to Charge,’ the new EV tax credit and enthusiastic new owners like the Bolt family, Dallas is poised to climb the ranks of leading Leaf sales markets,” said Toby Perry, director, EV Marketing for Nissan. “Texas is a great indicator that the right mix of customer awareness and strategically placed charging can lead to rapid EV adoption, and we expect to use that model to grow our sales in markets across the U.S.”