In response to a The Truth About Cars article on the Volt, one commenter, then two, claimed that Leaf sales have fallen flat while the Volt is selling comparatively well. To my eyes, the Leaf is as sound a car as the Volt, so I wondered if range anxiety was keeping buyers away from the EV.
On Father's Day, a Bloomberg headline read, Nissan Sees Leaf Sales Doubling as Factory Begins Production, which would seem to contradict the TTAC commenters, but once past the headline, I read:
Leaf sales have dropped the past two months, trailing General Motors Co. (GM)’s rechargeable Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s plug-in Prius in May. Volt deliveries more than tripled to 1,680 units in May, while Leaf sales fell 55 percent to 510. The Leaf is made in a single plant in Japan.
“We’ve had to fulfill demand from one plant globally,” Krueger said. “Once we localize it in December, the second half of the fiscal year is when we’ll see most of the supply, demand be available.”
The implication is that Nissan feels there are many more eager buyers than Leafs for sale, so they just have to increase supply to meet demand.
In, Nissan Leaf's U.S. sales may jump after production starts here the LA Times notes that the car has been selling well for yen in Japan and for euros in Great Britain and with substantial incentives in Norway:
Nissan still has big plans for the Leaf in the U.S. The company believes it will sell about 20,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year, though it will really have to ramp up sales in the second half of the year to reach that target.
Nissan is nearing completion of a massive upgrade to its factory complex outside of Nashville that will allow it to build both the battery pack for the Leaf and the car itself domestically near year-end. Once the company starts building Leafs in dollars, the whole marketing and sales approach the Nissan has pursued in U.S. will change ...
But while Nissan sees good times for the Leaf, they will have to deal with a battery problem in hot, hot Southwest states. I've been concerned about the cold-weather performance of battery electric vehicles, but in 2011 Nissan Leaf Battery Capacity Loss, Green Car Reports, and their commenters, suggest that intense heat from sun-baked pavement is even harder on batteries:
Just under a month ago, we reported a few cases in which owners of 2011 Nissan Leafs had noticed the first of twelve lights on their car’s battery capacity gauge had switched off, indicating a marked deterioration in battery capacity after just one year. ... A twelve-bar gauge to the right of the battery charge indicator, the battery capacity gauge is designed to give an at-a-glance indication of battery capacity and health.
As time passes and the battery ages, its ability to hold charge diminishes, meaning each full charge results in a slightly reduced range compared to when the car was new.
With time, the capacity gauge slowly drops, representing that drop in capacity.
When we originally reported the story, the affected cars -- all in Arizona -- experienced the loss of the first battery capacity gauge between 13,633 miles and 17,000 miles.
Nissan claims there are only five cars and that the depletion curve will flatten out anyway, but commenter Dave Rees isn't reassured:
There's a huge thread on mynissanleaf.com discussing this. There's at least 10 people who have reported that they've lost a capacity bar, a ~15% loss in capacity in a year or less. All of them so far are in Arizona. http://goo.gl/4N5NZ
Many others have reported a loss of capacity of around 10% - typically in warmer areas such as Texas or southern California.
The highest mileage LEAF (TaylorSFGuy) charges to 100% twice a day and has probably 40k miles on his LEAF so far but doesn't report any significant capacity loss. He is in Seattle. Others in Seattle also report that their battery appears to be like new.
All those AZ owners must be kicking themselves for not leasing instead of buying right about now...
Leaf Owner Brian Keez comments:
I know Phoenix in the summer. On the average 100+ degree summer day, the asphalt is between 150-170 degrees. The 2011 Nissan LEAF manual states “Do not expose a vehicle to ambient temperatures above 120degF (49degC) for over 24 hours.” The battery is right on top of that.
And Stoaty Marmot notes:
There are now reports on mynissanleaf.com of 12 Leafs that lost one capacity bar and 2 Leafs that lost two capacity bars. One Leaf is in Texas, the other 13 are in Arizona. One has to assume this is the tip of the iceberg, since most owners probably don't post on the mynissanleaf.
It is probably much safer to park your Leaf indoors, or at least in the shade, but as with Tesla, we see that when faced with unanticipated EV problems, Nissan simply advises owners not to abuse their batteries.
“We can confirm that the state of charge[sic] is depicted as a non-linear scale but are not able to confirm the specific totals that each ‘bar’ represents,” Nissan’s official statement says. “Battery life is contingent upon many variables related to driving habits and conditions. We are confident that if owners care for their vehicles properly, they will experience many years of enjoyable driving!”