By on August 24, 2016

2011 Nissan LEAF

Just north of the Vermont border, you’ll find 3,712 very disappointed would-be Nissan Leaf owners.

A Montreal-based group seeking a low-priced bulk buy of Nissan’s electric car has had their dreams dashed by Nissan Canada, after the automaker seemed to grow wary of the group’s size, Quebec’s La Presse reports.

Organizer Bruno Marcoux sought to replicate the success of a similar group in Colorado, which recently scored 248 Leafs for an ultra-low price. Marcoux thought he was getting close — he had secured a group purchasing agreement with a local Montreal dealer, which, combined with government and incentives and manufacturer buy-in, could have dropped the per-unit price to under $20,000 CDN. (The Leaf’s MSRP in Canada, before incentives, is $32,698.)

No dice, said the manufacturer. “We do not support this type of group purchasing initiative,” Nissan Canada president Joni Paiva told La Presse yesterday.

Paiva’s communications director, Didier Marsaud, went further, saying, “Nissan Canada made no commitments in any manner whatsoever to the purchasing group of electric vehicles in Québec.”

Marsaud said that if the group members really want to buy a Nissan Leaf, well, they know where to find a dealer.

This doesn’t sit well with the group’s organizer. Besides having the buy-in from his dealer, Marcoux claims the automaker’s regional director initially supported the group buy attempt.

“The group then gained momentum and became too big for them,” he told La Presse. Nissan Canada denies pulling a U-turn on the deal.

Such a deal would have put Leafs on every street corner in Montreal, where gas is expensive and electricity is cheap. In fact, it would have more than doubled the country’s Leaf sales, which reached 1,233 last year.

The automaker clearly didn’t want to handle the extra volume or soak up the lost profits, or both. Selling a pile of Leafs at a near-loss clearly isn’t Nissan Canada’s idea of a good time, despite similar (though much smaller) group buys in the U.S.

Nissan Canada would much rather those car-hungry Montrealers buy the subcompact Micra, which starts at a rock-bottom MSRP of $9,988.

H/T to Goodwill!

[Image: Nissan]

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34 Comments on “Massive Nissan Leaf Group Buy Kiboshed by Manufacturer...”

  • avatar

    I’m impressed. We’ve all seen group buys in forums, usually to get a small mod supplier to make the needed 20-100 you need to make to pay for the tooling.

    The last thing the stealership cartel will stand for is a group buy of the whole car, especially when there are warranty repairs.

    • 0 avatar

      The dealership was fine with it. It was Nissan Canada that said no.

      • 0 avatar

        When the other dealers raised Holy Hell…

        • 0 avatar

          My local Nissan dealer doesn’t have a Leaf, because “they don’t sell”.

          However, I see them regularly on the street and in driveways around town.

          Chicken, meet egg.

          Also, chicken, meet technological obsolescence. Many people will probably skip the leaf entirely and just wait for a 2nd generation EV. (I’m looking at a cheap Leaf to hold me over until the Model 3 makes it to the American Midwest.)

  • avatar

    I still don’t understand why Canadian’s can’t have the breaks that a lot of American’s (I am looking at you Colorado) do when it come to buying an electric car. In Ontario and Quebec, the incentives are quite good, but even in place, but the incentive only shows up on a tax refund so the out the door purchase price is still quite high.

  • avatar

    Nissan seem to have lost their appetite for seling LEAF’s. Sales (of LEAF EV’s) are tumbling and they don’t seem to have a care in the world.

    I suppose business is good in the ICE world.

    Going from a leadership position to trailing the pack is quite the turnaround in 5 years. When they do care about seling EV’s they might find catching up is harder to accomplish than falling behind.

  • avatar

    This is stating the obvious, but, here it goes…this demonstrates that there are still a decent number of customers who are willing to buy one of these vehicles (even in it’s current form with limited range) at the right price. Shame on Nissan for not designing/manufacturing to the correct market price.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Shame on Nissan? Nobody can make a profitable inexpensive electric car. Batteries are still too expensive. What manufacturers make are small numbers of subsidized electric cars to comply with the California zero-emissions vehicle mandate/carpool lane access. It makes a little sense for Nissan to lose money on each Leaf sold in California. It makes zero sense for them to lose money on each Leaf sold in Quebec.

      • 0 avatar

        You just have to have a different business model. Tesla exemplifies this new business model which is primarily based on selling autos for a loss but selling enough shares of stock to keep the whole circus going and growing. Is Tesla a tech company, an energy company, an auto company, a driverless cab company, or a pyramid scheme? Likely, Tesla is all of the above.

        I keep waiting for the CEO to tell us that the next software update (sent via wireless of course) will allow the Model X rear doors to enable the vehicle to fly short distances. That will give new context to the Autopilot feature for sure! Just don’t simultaneously engage Ludicrous mode while the flying feature is still in beta.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    The Leaf is already a money loser for Nissan Canada(corporate).

    The group buy offer is to sell a whole pile of Leafs at a even greater loss (because of the group buy discount).

    An obvious no thanks.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’ve said for years that there is a good sized market for EVs selling for less than $20k. Battery prices are the main obstacle. An EV drive train should be much less expensive than a comparable power ICE. I’m predicting that the battery manufacturers are still about 3-5 years from a 150 mile battery pack for a sub $20K car.

    • 0 avatar

      I was seriously considering getting a Chevy Spark EV for a city runaround. But wait, I can’t buy one in Michigan (at least when I was looking).

      • 0 avatar

        If you’re OK with a used one (like many of the B&B), the early ones are coming off lease now and dealers across the country are getting them at auction. $12k or so will likely get you a decent example. Mine is up in a month. Three years and it’s never been back to the dealer or a gas station. My only expense was a new pair of front tires. The OEM tires suck and wear quickly. I’m seriously considering getting another one. It’s way more fun than a cheap econobox has any right to be.

        • 0 avatar

          ^This. There was a report (probably here at TTAC) that depreciation for EVs is the absolute worst of any new vehicle. So, for anyone considering purchase, an off-lease, used EV would seem to be the way to go.

          • 0 avatar

            True, but to be fair, depreciation is calculated from MSRP, but for an EV you can get a $7500 tax credit from the feds and often something from the state. Take the $27k sticker and make it effectively $17k, and $12k after 3 years isn’t so bad.

    • 0 avatar

      @Felix, you are predicting this based on what exactly? Did you stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

  • avatar

    I bet there are close to 4000 people in Quebec that won’t buy a Nissan again in their lives. Probably best to wait for the Bolt anyway.

  • avatar

    Gee, smart move Nissan. Turn down 4,000 sales of a poorly selling model.

  • avatar

    Was the dealer anticipating a discount from Nissan corporate when they made this deal with the group? Not familiar at all with Canadian law but not sure how Nissan corporate can tell the franchised dealer what to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Point Given

      The point of the group buy was to great a greater concession(rebate) from Nissan Corporate. Dealer can’t tell Nissan corporate how much to give on rebates. Likely said dealer agreed to sell Leafs at cost or cost plus $300 or something like that less whatever rebate Nissan is offering. Deal was probably contingent upon Nissan Corporate significantly upping the rebates.

  • avatar

    This kind of arrangement takes the point out of a loss leader. There’s no way to upsell a member of this group. Without increased showroom traffic, without profit, without CAFE or other regulatory credits, why would they do this?

  • avatar

    If Nissan canada would have been smart it may have paid off in a great brand message for them, only they know how much of a hit they would have taken but write it off as a marketing expense for the brand, seems like a missed chance for them to clean out inventory and get a saturn like consumer brand ambassadors for the leaf

  • avatar

    My guess is the resell value of the existing used Leaves and future resell of these group buy Leaves will make the deal very expensive to Nissan, so that’s a NO.

  • avatar

    “get a saturn like consumer brand ambassadors for the leaf”


  • avatar

    I agree with Nissan’s thinking on this. 3700 units with no profit will never “make up on volume”. I’m sure the numbers guys figured that they could send a “coupon” for a sale at invoice to all on the list and accomplish the same thing while spreading the traffic to more dealer points. Some sharp salesman should jump this list and start calling. Never a better qualified group.

    • 0 avatar

      While it’s true there’s no direct profit on Leaf sales, the whole point of these compliance vehicles is to take the loss but accumulate EPA credits which, in turn, can be made up on the sale of less fuel efficient, but much more profitable vehicles.

      Of course, these being Canadian vehicles, I don’t know how credits are awarded (if at all). That may explain why Nissan allowed the Colorado deal to go through, but squelched the Quebec one. Plus, 248 versus 3,712 is quite a difference. Maybe if the number of Leafs had been more in line with what was sold in Colorado, Nissan Canada would have okay’d it.

  • avatar

    In Japan where gasoline still costs a zillion dollars per gallon, Nissan clings the hopeless notion that the EV will win out.

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