The market and infrastructure for plug-in vehicles is still in its infancy, both in the U.S. and worldwide. While it's premature to declare electric cars an unqualified success or failure, some are beginning to question Nissan's aggressive stance on electric cars in the face of sales figures that are still showing minimal penetration of electrics, even in markets that showed initial promise for receptive customers, and electrical infrastructures that could accommodate plug-in vehicles, according to Bloomberg.
Despite these concerns, Nissan's stock has not been adversely impacted. Nissan, under the urging of CEO Carlos Ghosn had initially targeted geographically-small nations such as Israel, Denmark and Portugal for aggressive market penetration for the Leaf, with market studies showing a high level of environmental concern among the citizens, and an infrastructure that could quickly adapt to adoption of electric vehicles.
But sales of vehicles have fallen dramatically short of initial expectations. Nissan sold 73 Leafs in Denmark in 2012, out of total new vehicle registrations of 170,770. In the U.S. market, the Leaf initially out-sold the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid when it first came to market, but has since been eclipsed by GM's range-extended electric.
In response to the country's notoriously bad air pollution problems, officials in China have set aggressive plug-in vehicle sales and production targets of 500,000 by mid-decade and 5 million by 2020. Currently, there are only 27,800 plug-in vehicles on China's roads, the majority of which are transit buses.