In 2014 sales of the Nissan LEAF electric car exceeded 30,000 units in the U.S. for the first time, crossing an important milestone for mass adoption of EVs. But Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn wants to sell a lot more LEAFs than that, and he revealed to Automotive News that he thinks the LEAF could do it, but only if it has a better charging network to support it.
“Selling 50,000 EVs in North America should not be, in my opinion, a task which is beyond our capacity,” Ghosn told AN. “I feel very good about the capacity we have today.” He went on to say that without enough of a charging infrastructure, development of the electric car market is going to be low and slow. The countries with the best charging infrastructures will see “a big burst” of sales from zero-emissions vehicles.
The success of Tesla Motors and its network of more than 2,000 fast-and-free Superchargers seems to back Ghosn’s assertion, but Nissan is doing more than whining. The automaker has partnered with companies like Chargepoint, evGo, and Blink to provide LEAF buyers free access to established charging networks. Nissan has also added more than 500 CHAdeMO fast-chargers that provide an 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes, but it hasn’t been enough to stimulate LEAF sales to hoped-for levels.
The new Nissan LEAF could have a range of 150+ miles per charge, and if the automaker establishes a larger, nationwide network of fast and free chargers similar to the Tesla Supercharger network, I don’t see why LEAF sales couldn’t easily exceed 50,000 units per year or more. Then again, there was a time when Ghosn was boasting that Nissan could sell 150,000 LEAFs per year, within a few years of launch. 50,000 seems like a much-more doable number, but it’d still mean almost doubling sales from 2014.
At the current sales pace, the LEAF might not even do half that number in 2015 as enthusiasts await the much-anticpated debut of the new Nissan EV. 50,000 sales might still be a few years out.