Tanking Nissan LEAF Takes US Electric Car Market With It

US EV Sales Nov 2015US electric car sales are in, and they aren’t particularly uplifting. The big deal hitting sales seems to be that people are waiting for a longer-range Nissan LEAF (or a much longer-range LEAF), a longer-range BMW i3, and the 200-mile Chevy Bolt (hitting the market ~1 year from now), and this has been killing sales of the Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, and nearly every other 100% electric model.

The only fully electric cars that saw higher sales in November 2015 compared to November 2014 were the Tesla Model S (basically, its production capacity has increased, so its sales have increased), the Volkswagen e-Golf (which had just hit the market about a year ago — 1 sale in October and 119 in November), and the Chevy Spark EV (a modest sales jump from 61 sales to 166 sales).

There are other potential reasons for the drop as well — low gas prices, people waiting for the Model 3, people opting for the new and improved Chevy Volt or the Ford Fusion Energi instead of a fully electric car… who knows?


Speaking of the Chevy Volt and Ford Fusion Energi, increased sales of those two plug-in hybrids drove the broader PHEV category’s 15% year-over-year increase. Volt sales increased 48% and Fusion Energi sales were up 26%. Together, they brought in 836 more sales. Kudos to GM and Ford for their continued growth… and simply making the cars available across the country!

Overall, monthly US electric cars sales have gotten a bit… predictable. I’m curious to see where they will be in one year, though. Between the Chevy Volt ramping up; the 2016 Nissan LEAF getting rolling; the Model X ramping up; new entrants like the BMW X5 xDrive 40e, Volvo XC90 T8, Audi A3 e-tron, and potentially Chevy Bolt leaving a mark; we could see a big change in the rankings next year.

For now, though, it’s again Tesla Model S #1, Chevy Volt #2, and Nissan LEAF #3, followed by a solid next 3 that change places from time to time — the BMW i3, Ford Fusion Energi, and, Ford C-Max Energi. And that order — just with the LEAF and Volt changing places due to strong LEAF sales and weak Volt sales earlier in the year — is essentially set in stone for the overall year-end ranking. Click on the full table for a look at more details:

US EV Sales 2015 - November 2015

*Tesla estimates (heavily requested by readers) are based on many statements and data points, such as official total sales numbers from Tesla, approximate US sales numbers based on a handful of statements by Elon Musk and registration numbers or media reports from numerous foreign countries, and Tesla sales projections. No doubt about it, the final numbers I report are estimates, but they are based on quite a lot of information.

**Fiat 500e numbers come from the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. They are only registration totals for California, but given that the 500e is hardly sold outside of California, we just use those totals as our cautious estimate of 500e sales.

Images: Ford Fusion Energi pictures by Cynthia Shahan, charts & table by Zachary Shahan | EV Obsession | CleanTechnica

8 thoughts on “Tanking Nissan LEAF Takes US Electric Car Market With It

  1. I see the market as being on hold for next gen EVs. People perceive the volt as the next gen PHEV so it’s ramping back up which is great but I expect sales of pure EVs w/less than 100 mile range to stagnate until the new ~200mi range EVs start coming out.

  2. I wouldn’t be too upset with Leaf sales. They just released 107 miles range model, and it’s still not widely available. I suspect the demand for 107 miles Leaf is eating into i3 and other comparably priced EV sales.

    The new Volt with 50+ miles AER would be eating into other hybrid sales, including i3 Rex; let’s face it, Volt is a hybrid. As with Leaf, new Volt is not as widely available, yet.

    That’s why dealer inventory figure would be helpful. If it’s sold out, the low sales is due to lack of supply, not lack of demand.

    As for SparkEV, I don’t know where Chevy is selling them. It’s been sold out in SoCal since June 2015. Worse, 2016 isn’t even out yet! Sporadically, I see them at ev-vin’s blog, but not in SoCal.


    1. Agreed. And regarding Spark EV, note that Kyle planned to get one and couldn’t find one in SoCal. Ended up with a LEAF. The GM exec at the recent EV Summit I attended outright said that GM didn’t see it as a competitive product worth pushing.

      1. GM said the same thing about EV1, including the four seater and hybrid versions they had in development. As I said many times, GM execs are dunces of the automotive world. They have the quickest car in the world under $20K, not just EV but any car, yet they don’t see it as competitive?

        On one hand, I’d love to see SparkEV pushed and do well. On the other hand, if GM kills SparkEV, it could become collector’s car. With small battery (ie, cheap to replace) and quick performance and rare, it’s more likely to be repaired and continue to live on in collector’s garages.

        I guess we’ll see how Bolt performs; if its 0-60 is slower than SparkEV, it won’t bode well for Bolt, and increasing the collector value of SparkEV even further.

        1. I think the lack of good marketing around the Volt is another huge strike for GM. They built an amazing car that led the Consumer Reports happiness surveys until the Model S came along, yet they don’t push it.

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