Nissan LEAF US Sales Show It Is Tesla Model 3's First Real Victim

How can a car that hasn't even been launched yet affect one that's been on the market for a good number of years and is still the world's best sold electric vehicle? That's probably a question nobody needed to answer until Tesla introduced this subscription system for the Model 3.
Nissan LEAF ad 1 photo
Photo: Nissan
We're going to focus on the US market here because this is where the battle between the two is most relevant. Last year, the Nissan LEAF had a pretty mediocre sales performance, managing to deliver just 17,269 units, compared to 30,200 in 2014. The poor performance lit up some red lights back at Nissan HQ, so for this year, the new LEAF came with an improved battery pack with a 30 kWh capacity.

This new power storage device boosted the car's maximum range to 107 EPA-rate miles, which is still far from impressive, but it's well withing the limits for any non-Tesla electric vehicle. Even so, this year's sales up until May are 39 percent down compared to the same period of the disastrous 2015, so Nissan can expect an even worse result. For instance, it only secured 979 LEAF sales during May, and if this were to be its monthly average, it'd end the year with just 11,748, or the equivalent of a 32 percent drop.

But why would a car that is better than the one last year have worse sales figures? There is only one answer, and it starts with "T." The Nissan LEAF used to be the best electric vehicle you could buy in its price range, and a lot of people who wanted a zero-emissions car couldn't afford Tesla's $70,000-plus Model S. They could, however, have parted with a smaller sum - say... $35,000.

It looks like despite Nissan's ads that circulated right after the Model 3 launch ("No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today." and "Why wait when you can drive an all-electric LEAF now?"), it was the Tesla who managed to snag a large part of what would have otherwise been LEAF buyers.

Those 373,000 reservations had to come from somewhere, and we wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them chose to wait for a 200-miles capable car that doesn't look like a scared mouse and costs about the same. We know we would have done the same.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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