Sales Goals for Nissan Leaf Cut in Half

2011-nissan-leaf-rear-shot

A few roadbumps are causing Nissan to rethink its initial sales target for the all new 2011 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. Throughout most of the year, the automaker was confident it would sell all 20,000 units allocated for the United States and now it’s likely only half that amount will make it out of Nissan showrooms.

In a report by Automotive News, Nissan vice president of sales Al Castignetti estimates 10,000 to 12,000 first model year Leafs will be sold. The sales hiccups could be traced as far back to before the Leaf even made it to Nissan showrooms. "It's different than anything we've ever done, launching the car in three global markets at the same time," Castignetti said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy."

How Nissan has gone about courting potential customers has been as unique as the car itself -- those interested must submit a $99 deposit through an online reservation system, which started back in April 2010. Nissan stopped accepted reservations last September when it received deposits for the 20,000 allocated units, but less than half are resulting in sales.

According to Nissan spokesperson Katherine Zachary, only 46 percent of reservations are being sold “for many different reasons.” Zachary points out that Nissan has received reservations from residents who live in cities where the Leaf isn’t available. The Leaf was only available in seven states when it first went on sale in December of 2010. Nissan is slowly rolling out sales in other states and expects to be completed by 2012. The final production Leaf may not be appealing to prospective buyers, and it's also possible that consumers are intimidated or are unable to install the required charging station in their home. Then there’s the limited (but growing) network of public charging stations where owners can plug in away from home; additionally, Nissan halted production for a few weeks following complications from the March 11 disaster in Japan.

Regardless, Nissan still plans to mass produce the Leaf in its Smyrna, Tennessee factory following a $1.6 billion project to add lithium ion battery pack production to the plant. The automaker says production could start in 2013 with an annual capacity of 150,000 units.

In the meantime, the sales complications haven’t slowed Nissan’s attempt to put the Leaf in the spotlight. In April, the automaker’s performance arm NISMO unveiled the Leaf RC, a racetrack version of the passenger car complete with a low-slung carbon-fiber body and mid-mounted powertrain. Nissan has already begun testing the Leaf Nismo RC, which could be the birth of quiet and emissions free racing. Nissan has also caused some controversy with a recent commercial that focuses on the gas-powered generator used in the Chevrolet Volt, the Leaf’s main competitor.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

Clark B
Yes, those of us who put down deposits actually thought aobut using the car before we put down money. It works best for families that have more than one car. That way, the Leaf is for around town trips, and longer trips go for the other vehicle. Now, how many multiple car households are there in the US? Millions? And there ar e a lot of those that dont want to support the foreign dictator oil market any more. So yes, there are millions of customers yet to get the Leaf they want. And if they wanted another hybrid, like t he Volt, they would just buy a Prius. Nice car, but it burns gas like the Volt. And driving dynamics of the Leaf are a not more pleasing than the Prius, which is a fairly successful car. The Leaf has less body roll, is quieter, has better turn in (although not a track car by any means) and zips from a stop sign, all better than a Prius. So the "golf cart" pitch is a little lame.
Charlie Lynch
There are reduced sales because supply of Leafs has been reduced due to the drastic effect of the earthquake/tsumani on the Japanese production facility. Many of the first 20,000 reservation holders like myself have been told that they will not be able to place an order until 2012. This is due to Nissan not being able to produce enough Leafs in Japan to meet demand outside the initial 7 launch states. So Nissan is continuing with the plans for the Tennessee plant because they need that additional capacity to meet demand. How can your reporter get this so completely wrong?
defiance
"A few roadbumps are causing Nissan to rethink its initial sales target for the all new 2011 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle." So with the first words off the page, you show yourself to be uninformed or intentionally misleading. 10,000+ customers have waited over a year for this car. When an order *does* cancel, which is rare, the dealer gets to sell it as and "orphan", which so far has netted premiums of thousands of dollars over msrp. And they NEVER sit waiting to sell. Nissan is NOT rethinking their "sales target", they're rethinking their production capacity. They could easily double or even triple their current production and still sell them as fast as they got them to the lots.
Shieck
Well, I put my $99 in, have waited 15 months with no car, so I bought a Volt instead. Nissan cut corners everywhere to produce at this price. They should have gone for more range and better appointments at a higher price. What a shame.
Kevin
There are thousands of customers for this vehicle outside of Nissans self imposed launch areas who are waiting to buy. Nissan will soon expand the areas the Leaf is available in and sales will escalate. If this vehicle was on the ground at Nissan stores now it would be snapped up faster then any other car available !
Mike N
Of course, there are a couple of other problems. People who have put down deposits then found out that if you drove it more than 75 miles you're stranded for overnight, at least, unless you've got access to a quick charging station. One other problem is the car itself. I drove one and frankly, it was like driving an oversize golf cart. The vehicle is marginal at expressway speeds (necessary here in Texas) and gives practically no feedback whatsoever to the driver. If you see driving as a chore, this may be the vehicle for you.
max bradey
IT SEEMS TO ME THIS IS JUST ANOTHER ARTICLE WHICH MOSTLY IGNORES THE FACT OF LIFE THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE DEMAND FOR NISSAN LEAF BY THE PUBLIC. THERE IS AN ENORMOUS DEMAND. THE PURE PROBLEM IS THE SUPPLY. TALKING ABOUT SALES WHICH IGNORE THE KEY POINT OF THE ENORMOUS DEMAND AND THE FACT OF LIFE NO ONE CAN ORDER A CAR UNLESS NISSAN LETS YOU ORDER ONE IS JUST WASTED MOTION. IT IS UP TO NISSAN TO JUST TAKE ORDER FOR THE CAR. IF THEY OPENED UP ORDERS WORLDWIDE YOU WOULD SEE MILLIONS ORDERED.......

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