In 2010, Nissan became one of the first companies in the world to unveil a completely electric, emission-free automobile, the Nissan Leaf. When first released, however, the electric car craze had yet to hit the United States. Thanks to recent innovations and attention from the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Volt, however, the popularity of all-electric vehicles has begun to soar. While the Nissan Leaf may not have the name recognition of its competitors, its features and affordability make it one of the best all-electric models on the market.
Last month, Nissan sold its 100,000th Leaf, making the Leaf the number one selling electric vehicle in the world. (A number which Nissan celebrated by gluing 100,000 coins onto the car.) Despite selling more cars than any other electric car manufacturer, Nissan saw sales of the Leaf drop considerably from December to January. In December 2013, Nissan sold 2, 529 models. In January 2014, Nissan only sold 1,252. While this number is less than half of what it was one month earlier, the sales show a 92.6% increase from sales in January 2013, when Nissan sold 650 units total.
The 1,252 units sold this January is a new record for January sales for the Nissan Leaf.
— Nissan LEAF (@NissanLEAF) January 20, 2014
One may wonder why the Leaf is performing so well when it often plays third fiddle in the media behind the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S. For starters, one has to look at the price. The base model Leaf sells for $21,300 here in the US. That fact, coupled with government incentives for buying an electric vehicle and lowered prices due to moving manufacturing from Japan to Smyrna, Tennessee, make the Leaf a much more affordable option than the Chevy Volt or Tesla Model S. Aside from that, however, is the fact that the Nissan Leaf is superbly built.
The 99,999th buyer of a Nissan Leaf, Amy Eichenberger of Charlottesville, Va., explains why she made the switch from a Mercedes to a Nissan Leaf:
"As an architect, the style first got my attention, and I loved the concept of zero emissions... I'd been told once I drove a Mercedes I'd never drive anything else again. I don't need fancy, but I do appreciate the solid feel and craftsmanship of a luxury vehicle, and I get that in the LEAF... The general fuel economy out there is unimpressive and many of them felt tin-canny. I didn't even want to look at anything in the 20 MPG range. I considered the VW Jetta TDI, Toyota Prius, Honda CRV and a couple of Subaru wagons, and I always came back to the Nissan LEAF. Everything else seemed stuck in the past."
Fortunately for Nissan, the United States is not the only location where the Nissan Leaf is succeeding. In Norway, the Leaf has led all vehicle sales several times in the past year. In fact, Norwegians buy so many EVs that it ranks number 1 in the world in per capita EV ownership, with 21,000 Norwegians, out of 5 million total, owning an electric vehicle.
If an all-electric vehicle is not appealing enough, just wait. Last year in Japan, Nissan tests a prototype version of the Leaf with fully-automated controls. The test turned out to be quite a success; therefore, one may see self-driven Leafs on the road sooner than later.
Image via Twitter