Nissan have just hit the 400,000 mark in cumulative sales of their Leaf full-electric EV.
Released in late 2010, it was a ground-breaking model for an existing auto manufacturer, even beating Tesla’s Model S as the first mass-production, ground-up design BEV (battery electric vehicle).
Since its introduction, the Leaf has been the biggest selling EV in the USA and Japan, and in 2018 returned to being the top selling EV in Europe. (It had been running closely behind the Renault Zoe BEV since 2015).
When introduced, the Leaf was seen as an innovative design – but Nissan have struggled somewhat over the years to keep up with newer entrants who have innovated faster than Nissan.
These include the Renault Zoe (introduced 2013 with a 22kWh battery and moving to 41kWh in 2016 – around the time the Leaf moved to 30kWh), the two Hyundai BEV models (Ioniq electric in 2016 and Kona electric in 2018), Kia e-Niro (2018), and now the Tesla Model 3. (Let alone the innovations shown by the luxury BEVs such as the Tesla models S and X, Jaguar I-Pace, BMW i3 and Audi e-tron).
It will be therefore interesting to see if Nissan manage to keep the mantle of ‘highest ever selling production BEV model’ for much longer.
At the production rate of over 5000 Model 3s a week, Tesla recently passed the 200,000 Model 3 sales mark – meaning it will easily reach 400,000 sometime this year and maybe even 500,000 by the end of 2019!
Given the Nissan Leaf’s much lower vehicle production rate – it seems unlikely the Leaf will hit that mark before the Model 3.
So game on for EV sales in 2019.
With the ever increasing number of EVs hitting the road – the market is still going to be huge for EVs to conquer for some time to come: whoever takes the sales mantles over the next few years is really only marking a waypoint in the marathon now taking place in the EV takeover of the ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle market.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.