By on February 24, 2015

2015 Nissan Leaf whiteIn the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements.

Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, a 182-unit drop. On a monthly basis, Leaf volume increased every month between February 2013 and December 2014, year-over-year.

It’s not a high-volume car, the Leaf, but it’s not so exclusive as to be called rare. Leaf volume has risen beyond 1000 units in each of the last 23 months. Average monthly U.S. volume measured 2911 units in the second half of 2014, up from an average of 2129 monthly sales in the second half of 2013. Leaf volume shot above 3000 units in May, July, August, and December of 2014. (The Chevrolet Volt has only topped the 3K mark once, in August 2013. Toyota has only sold more than 2000 Prius Plug-Ins in a single month twice.)

In fact, that high December output – U.S. sales jumped 23% to 3102 in the final month of 2014 – was partly to blame for the Leaf’s first decline in two years. “Increased demand in December from customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year pulled some sales ahead,” Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, told TTAC yesterday. And while Nissan doesn’t see low fuel prices having long-term impact on the EV market, Brockman said, “We are also seeing some short-term effects of historically low fuel prices on EV demand among buyers who are solely focused on the economic benefits.”

Some? In the case of the Leaf, very little at all. Even in January, the lowest-volume month for the Leaf since February 2013, the all-electric Nissan still outsold a long list of conventional cars, SUVs, crossovers, and vans, including a large number of Nissan products: NV, Q40, Armada, Xterra, Titan, Quest, Q70, and many more. The Leaf sold more than twice as often as the approaching-replacement Volt (not that the Leaf is a spring chicken), 43% more often than the Scion FR-S, more than three times more often than the Volvo V60.

January 2015 Nissan USA Leaf sales chartThe Volt, FR-S, and V60 aren’t exactly mainstream machines. But that’s not really the point. In a slow month for the Leaf, it was wildly more popular than truly rare cars. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold approximately 47% of all passenger car nameplates in January. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold all-electrics like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Volkswagen e-Golf, Smart Fortwo EV, Fiat 500E, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Mitsubishi i MiEV combined.

It’s worth noting that while HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla sold 1300 copies of the Model S, the Tesla is mostly alone in its electrified nature at the Model S’s price point. The same can not be said for the degree of direct competition faced by the Leaf. Indirectly? Toyota, for instance, sold more than 12,000 total Prius family cars in January.

Regardless of what the competition manages, Nissan would prefer to see Leaf sales continue to improve. Crosby fans also want to see Sidney do more than record points in back-to-back games after being held scoreless in five of six. That’s The Truth About Hockey.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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10 Comments on “A Leaf Falls In January: After 23 Consecutive Increases, Nissan USA Reports Leaf Decline...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I like your house Tim, looks nice!

  • avatar
    jdogma

    “Chevrolet sold 2,127 Corvettes which was a decrease of -5.9% from the 2,261 Corvettes sold during January 2014” http://www.corvetteblogger.com/category/news/gm-factory-news/

    Over 2 times as many Corvettes sold, and a down year for them as well. Puts Leaf sales in perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      I’d argue that the Corvette’s totals put everything in perspective. Earlier today: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-audi-tts-coupe-competition/

  • avatar

    Model refresh is getting overdue for the LEAF.

    2013 was the last refresh and its sold well since that refresh. I read rumors that Nissan may not do a 2016 LEAF model and will instead wait until the ‘new LEAF’ is ready. If that’s the case we will be reading about lack luster sales fora while.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ll speculate that a perfect storm of forces came together:

    1) Demand drop in January as those looking for a $7.5K tax credit were motivated to buy in back in December – so some January buyers got pulled into the previous month.

    2) Unbelievably crappy weather in some of the prime selling real estate for the Leaf, the urban canyons of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

    3) $2.04 a gallon average price for gasoline making the value prop of a Leaf a bit weaker.

    I see all three of these as just a blip on the overall radar.

  • avatar
    Ken Headlee

    Little background here: I leased a Nissan Leaf for 2.5 years beginning in 8/2012. Leased it for financial savings as it would replace an aging Avalanche and range was well within my 64 mile/day roundtrip. At first driving it like a real car, 75 on the highway and 5 over everywhere else I found a legitimate 78 mile range on a single charge. Mind you I used the 110v convenience charger and only level 2’d it a handful of times. After the first year and 15k miles I dropped the first bar from the indicator (widely accepted to be 15%). After 2 years I dropped another and had a significant decline in range. 1 month later at 32k I dropped a third. Now my range is down to roughly 45 to 48 miles on a full charge and I’m now driving 65 on the interstate and level limit everywhere else. I would leave my house in the morning showing 48 miles range but when I got to work (32 miles) I would have less than 5 miles remaining. Sometimes as little as 2. That’s when I gave my Leaf back to Nissan and why you almost never see a used Leaf with 40k miles, and why sales will continue to fall as the Leaf population ages. Good idea, poor execution.


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