Leaf Sales Falling: Blame Model 3?

Leaf Sales Falling: Blame Model 3?

Nissan's EV star has faded this year despite the 62 kWh battery version entering the market.

In August, LEAF sales in Japan amounted to 1,661, which is 20% less than a year ago, although in line with the 12-month average (1,758).

The Japanese manufacturer will not repeat its 2018 success of selling 25,722 LEAFs in its home market. This year, the result is 14,066 after eight months (down 25% year-over-year).

Nissan LEAF sales in Japan – August 2019

The cumulative sales of the LEAF in Japan is approaching 130,000 and slowly catches up with the U.S. at 137,605. In the U.S., the LEAF also is struggling to get back to its best form.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

I don't know about Japanese Leaf sales.

I'll just say this, I would not buy the Leaf now because the lower end Model 3 is available.

There are 2 reasons for the drop in sales in my opinion.
1. Model 3 lower end trims give more features for a slightly higher price point + excellent all round utility
2. The bigger battery pack on the Leaf pushed it's price point higher, but didn't give any significant differences. It still can't go cross city because of weak range, and poor charging Infrastructure. It helped a few customers who have longer commutes, but it made the price higher for so many others - not a good trade off in my opinion.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

The old leaf is a great budget commuter EV. It has strong advantages in a narrow market.
The new leaf isn't the right mix for US budget commuter market - the lower end 3s are excellent.

I'll say this for the dozenth time. When the Y launches, that's going to seriously upend the market - much more so than the 3

The only shortcoming of the 3 is that it's not a higher stance hatchback - Y settles that :)

SamO | 06. September 2019

I don’t mean to kick a sick dog, but Nissan has failed to deliver on a number of features, including robust high-speed charging network that would have allowed it to compete with model three.

Chickens are coming home to roost. Taycan is not a “competitor” but the Leaf (technically) is. Not good for OEM.

Magic 8 Ball | 06. September 2019

Leaf owners, I know, really like them. Nissan did a good job making them EV enthusiasts that will want to step up to a Tesla.

Earl and Nagin ... | 06. September 2019

Our Leaf was great freeway fodder to destroy when commuting. It required a backup vehicle. The Model 3 is much cheaper because, with the great charging infrastructure, no backup car is required.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

You're right. Nissan Leaf (old) hit a good balance for a budget commuter EV. I don't think it was ever intended to move across US cities.
The new leaf is in the competition price point of 3 and will be expected to do everything the 3 does - but it just cannot. So I wouldn't BUY the Leaf.

However, leasing the Leaf is still competitive from a price point perspective. Leaf still works out cheaper than a Corolla/Civic. I think a lot of the sales numbers are actually leased cars.

hokiegir1 | 06. September 2019

Like @vmulla said -- the Leaf is a great car if you drive less than about 50 miles a day total (due to winter range reductions). It would be fantastic for my ILs, who rarely do more than go to the doctor, grocery store or out to dinner. If their prius dies, that's likely what hubby will put them in. For anyone else, a SR 3 is a much fuller package at a reasonably comparable price.

SamO | 06. September 2019

Leaf is a good 2nd car, for the most part. If the price was $19,000, they’d sell like hot cakes.

Every single car doesn’t need 300 miles range with a robust charging network.

Don’t even get me started with Porsche. The Taycan was supposed to be $80,000. Smh.

SamO | 06. September 2019

Every single car . . . If you have a robust fast charging network.

texxx | 06. September 2019

Here's the real appeal of the Leaf: buying one used. They are dirt cheap and if you're looking for a short-range commuter EV it's a no-brainer to buy one off lease. One of the guys at my office picked up a Gen 1 off lease and loves it for what it does, relative to cost.

But hearing him talk about how the range is getting worse and worse over the time he's owned it (about 18 months, so the car's now nearly five years old) just reminds me how far ahead the Tesla BMS is compared to every other EV manufacturer.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

Gen 1 Leaf is not something I'd recommend.

My 2015 Leaf lost 4 miles of range over 3yrs and 33k miles - that's definitely a great used car to buy. If anyone is in that market be sure to check the car has the new 'lizard' battery.

I don't recommend buying a new Leaf, leasing is fine.

And these cars have a great 2nd life in smaller countries - so no worries about life of the car beyond the lease. Nepal apparently is in love with the used Leaf vehicles. With it's small size, upright driving position and high torque it's a great car for narrow mountain roads in a country that has more hydroelectric power than it can use. These cars are common in Washington DC as taxis too, I'm not sure how they're doing the longer rides tough. | 06. September 2019

I look at every Leaf sale as a future Tesla customer. Not a great position for Nissan to be in. Many around here have already made the transition. Kudos though for Nissan to push EVs when every other automaker ignored them.

SamO | 06. September 2019

Didn’t try very hard though.

CharleyBC | 06. September 2019

I’m surprised there are only about 138K LEAFs in the US. Around Sacramento, I feel I see them about as often as 3s. Perhaps they’re even more concentrated in California than Teslas are.

Anyway, I hope they find their sweet spot and get stronger again. For EVs to truly succeed, we need multiple manufacturers solidly in the game.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

SamO | September 6, 2019
Didn’t try very hard though.

Just hard enough to prep for the future without giving up on existing market share.

Also the discussion on this forum is US centric, many of these shorter range EVs are just fine for other parts of the world. If you look at it from a global perspective they're making an impact. Nissan did well actually, they introduced EVs years ago to places Tesla isn't delivering 3s to(SE Asia).
Just giving credit where it's due.

From a US standpoint, no I wouldn't buy a Leaf anymore.

SamO | 06. September 2019

Even the Japanese aren’t buying this trash. The days selling b.s. cars anywhere is evaporating.

vmulla | 06. September 2019

SamO | September 6, 2019
Even the Japanese aren’t buying this trash. The days selling b.s. cars anywhere is evaporating.

I wouldn't say Leaf is a BS car, it's just not as good as the 3.
I think this would be a fantastic car for markets that have less travel distances, what's lacking is the charging Infrastructure - nothing wrong with the car itself.

andy | 06. September 2019

As has already been said, the 40kWh Leaf is a fabulous car for people who have 50 return commutes and access to a second car.

In Central Britain we have a high population density and plenty of 50kWh charge points - many free. It’s perfect for cities and on congested motorway commutes - easy to get in and out of
, 360 parking camera, hatchback (takes a big load), speed limiter, Propilot (IMHO) easily matches Autopilot, cameras pick up traffic sign speed limits and it has Apple CarPlay (so good urban mapping & safety camera notifications).

I wouldn’t buy the 64kWh version, but the 40kWh is great value and a good step into the EV world. Loved ours and it gained Tesla another customer when my range needs changed. Got a good resale price for it too.

SamO | 06. September 2019

Half baked crap. 20,000 - 30,000 unit volume worldwide is just a joke.

They know what will sell they just can’t or won’t make it.

I’ve never appreciated intentionally terrible products and as i have explained repeatedly, not everyone gets a trophy.

Start making good cars. They don’t have to be the best. But build some fast charging.

It’s really simple.

andy | 06. September 2019

In the UK you get access to Nissan sales garages with free fast charging - I used them to get around the country and sometimes to save on paying for car parking.

We are also not short on 50kWh chargers - they are at every service station on the motorways, at many Holiday Inns and Novatels as well as free-to-use at retailers and in some council park and rides.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

I agree that Nissan knows what will sell, and is just not making it in numbers.
The Leaf isn't half-baked at all - as I shared earlier, it is just not as good as the 3. I do not think it is a terrible car at all :) no need to change the new 2018 Leaf, we just need charging infrastructure (non-US perspective )
If you haven't tried the Leaf, you should - it is actually pretty good. I suggest trying the older Leaf first.

What surprised me is that I'm the third person on this thread that favors the older leaf with ~90mile range over the newer ~160mile variant. Those extra dollars for longer range isn't worth it for commute purposes - we cannot take the car across cities anyway.

SalisburySam | 07. September 2019

@vmulla, +1. I still like and use my 2012 LEAF SL purchased new in February of 2012. It has several not-so-unimportant advantages over my six-year-newer Model 3 including far easier ingress/egress, a head restraint I was able to easily turn around, heated steering wheel, AM radio, Sirius/XM for those who care (I don’t), simple wiper controls, hatchback design (yeah, I know about the Y), ability to go through a full-service automated car wash and stay in Neutral without anyone in the car, cloth seats (personal preference), and to me, better all-around visibility. It makes a terrific 2nd vehicle for local errands and very short commutes. In no way could this car be an only vehicle with its limited range and very slow charging rates even if the infrastructure permitted. Enter my amazing Model 3 which excels in every other vehicle aspect except those above. Oh yeah, and it costs more.

gballant4570 | 07. September 2019

The Leaf served a purpose, but that purpose (at least in the US) is evolving. I never considered a Leaf due to limited range. It simply did not fit my needs. I am sure I am not the only person who would say the same.
300 miles of range was a threshold for me. In retrospect that could have been lower, but I would never have been truly satisfied with less. The range of the Leaf, especially a few years ago, just would not have been sufficient. On the odd occasion that I actually need to use a Tesla supercharging station, I can find and use one fairly easily.

With the availability of Tesla Model 3, its no surprise that Leaf sales are declining. However, as Leaf owners trade up, the used car market gets more EV penetration. That is an important part of The Mission that is often overlooked, and the emerging best value for the Leaf that I see.

SamO | 07. September 2019

I've often complimented the Leaf as a used vehicle. For $6,000, it's hard to find a used vehicle with such a low cost of ownership.

For $40,000 . . . not so much. With no charging network . . . not so much. Setting back the EV movement by selling compliance vehicles in intentionally small numbers . . . not so much.

IMO this sets back the "mission" by continuing to accentuate the lack of range, affordability and inconvenience of EVs.

If the Leaf could fast charge . . .

If the Leaf had decent range . . .

or if the Leaf cost under $20,000 . . .

But alas, it is not to be. Don't be angry with me for pointing out the things that have prevented the transition . . . ie. don't shoot the messenger . . . realize that Nissan could easily be doing it much, much better. And they are choosing not to.

texxx | 07. September 2019


You hit the nail on the head - the used (affordable) EV market brings in more new EV owners that simply can't, or won't, shell out 40K+ for a new EV. My friend at the office bought a used Leaf as his first EV for $17K. He loves the EV experience and while he has some complaints about the car - limited/declining range being the biggest - he will likely never buy another ICE. He's hooked.

I let him drive my 3. Nothing but grins, and I know what's going to happen next. When used 3's hit the market at prices he considers affordable he'll buy one. So for those putting down the Leaf as an "also ran", not serious EV, yeah, maybe. But it's a way to get someone in the seat of an EV that will never spend new Tesla money on a car. And that's a good thing, because despite his car's limitations he evangelizes the EV experience to anyone that will listen just as much as I do.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

We're not that far apart :)

You're dismissing the Leaf as an all round vehicle, and I agree. I already pointed out that I wouldn't buy the leaf new (I would recommend leasing it)

I'm pointing out that it's a fantastic choice as a second vehicle.

Also, you seem to be taking a US centric view - that's ok. Just note that longer range EVs are an overkill for most of Europe, and Asia.

SamO | 07. September 2019


Where we seem to depart is that you seem to think this is some unaccountably strange coincidence that Nissan can't equip its vehicles with fast-charging capability or provide a network of charging.

They spent Billions of dollars marketing their vehicles last year. They can afford to actually enable the use of their cars.

it's really quite simple.

Only Nissan has the ability to "fix" this problem.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

No, we don't disagree there either -
Here's a part of my earlier post on this thread (below)

vmulla | September 7, 2019
I agree that Nissan knows what will sell, and is just not making it in numbers.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

Here's one more place that I agreed with you about Nissan's push towards EVs.


vmulla | September 6, 2019
SamO | September 6, 2019
Didn’t try very hard though.

Just hard enough to prep for the future without giving up on existing market share.


Just as a clarification - by existing market share(above), I meant Nissan's existing ICE market share. Clearly Nissan didn't want Leaf to succeed so much that it will eat into Sentra/Versa/Altima sales.

SamO | 07. September 2019

agree. and if my goal is the same is Tesla's . . . to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy, then Nissan is actually doing the opposite.

Hence my constant frustration with having to explain that NO . . . I don't hate Nissan or the Leaf. it is simply an intentionally gimped product.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

Looks like you're back to US centric view point :)
Commute distances in the US are comparable to inter-city distances elsewhere in the world. So, Leaf isn't gimped at all - it's just targeted for a different market. It's also doing just fine promoting EVs - actually it's doing a darn good job in markets that Tesla hasn't entered yet.

I think it's safe to say our opinions diverge here :)

Instead of making this about Leaf vs Tesla here's something I feel very strongly about. There's a BIG market for small inexpensive hatchbacks that do not need massive range, or advanced tech. Just reliable 100 miles will do. With Tesla's commitment to building charging network, and their existing EV tech the opportunity for Tesla is really mind boggling. All in good time, Tesla needs to move forward in the current path for now and let others capitalize on the small inexpensive EV market.

SamO | 07. September 2019

There is less than 1% market for those cars. Know how I know? It’s called observation.

No carmaker can sell more than 20,000 per year on any continent. This has been true since Nissan launched. True of the iPace. True of the Bolt. True of the ...

If there was this great demand then surely Nissan would have found these customers. But alas, reality intrudes on your theories.

Build some f’ing chargers. And I’m done with this fruitless discussion.

Tesla expanded the market for $100,000 cars by not just providing range. Or performance. That would not move the needle. Instead they provided an ecosystem which is better than oil and gas. so much.

vmulla | 07. September 2019

Less than 1% market for smaller range EVs? Ok :)

You realize Leaf has more than 1% of the EV market already, right? - that's in the US where range demands are higher. Even with Tesla dominating the EV space Nissan will still do well above 1%

We can agree that more chargers will help a lot.

SalisburySam | 08. September 2019

Love my 2012 LEAF SL, hate it’s small and diminishing range, but it remains a great 2nd vehicle for errands. Ongoing costs of ownership, including the fact that today it is worth less than 10% of its acquisition cost new, is wonderfully low. For example, I just replaced the 3 wiper blades, the only out-of-pocket expense in two years aside from the cost of electrons to make it go and registration/insurance fees. My LEAF did come with a DC fast-charging port, which I thought was pretty forward-looking at the time, never mind that there were absolutely no DC fast charging stations within eight states of my location. Now that DC charging stations are more available, the downside is that my range is insufficient to go from DC to DC station and I certainly unwilling to spend the time to do so; a 60-mile trip would take over 3 hours. I applaud Nissan for taking the bold and expensive step to deliver what for the time was a truly amazing and useful EV. I castigate Nissan for taking its early and commanding lead and completely pissing it away with incredibly slow but needed improvements. Had the 2019 version of the LEAF+ with its reasonable range actually been the 2013 or 2014 LEAF, and I believe it could have been with the right emphasis at Nissan, I think today’s EV landscape would be dramatically different and we’d be far ahead of current (ha, ha, get it?) adoption levels.

As another poster said, 300-mile range was my minimum with an appropriate charging network to finally go all-EV all the time. Tesla’s brilliance in my opinion was to design, build, and maintain an ecosystem that works, and not build just a piece of that environment expecting other industries to meet its needs. That separation-of-industry thingie worked and works well for ICE technology, but there is too much at stake in the status quo for a paradigm shift to occur in just one piece of the ecosystem. Again brilliant Elon, just brilliant.

frnch | 08. September 2019

Nissan couldn't deliver on the 2019 extended range version, (over a year wait). It would have been a strong contender for me except for that. Many things I like about the Leaf. Pro-Pilot is standard. Vertical overhead parking display on-screen. Blind spot warning is in the mirrors ( much more intuitive than on Tesla's driving display).

I bought the LRAWD without FSD, and blind spot warning is my only beef. It was delivered in three weeks.

vmulla | 08. September 2019

If you were looking at Nissan leaf as an alternative to the 3 then you were looking for the wrong vehicle.

A few other things in your post. Propilot is not standard. The other features you mentioned are higher end options.

Consider a household that already has a Tesla and are looking for a second budget EV - Nissan leaf is a very strong choice. If the household has the financial wherewithal for another Tesla then opt for the Tesla.

SamO | 08. September 2019


Short range EVs =1%total auto sales

Tesla showed how to become the #1 selling car (by $) by giving range and charging

vmulla | 08. September 2019

True about what you say about Tesla, Nissan showed that there is a market for EVs that can do a decent job at an affordable price.

TranzNDance | 08. September 2019

And looks!? At least, that's a factor for a car snob like me.

vmulla | 08. September 2019

Looks?? :)) The Leaf isn't for you.
That car is for anyone who doesn't give a dam about looks, and cares about utility, function and budget. There's quite a few buyers who think like that.

SamO | 08. September 2019

They still have their $7500 Federal credit to offer after 9 years of selling so, again, they haven’t shown much, have they?

Coulda sold 10x as many if they’d just created an ecosystem. Didn’t need to wait for more batteries.

But it’s not too late.

vmulla | 08. September 2019

Exactly. But Nissan isn't a company out to change the world, it's out to make a profit - if anything Nissan was preparing for the future without risking it's traditional business.

Note that despite it's weird looks, limited range, and crappy charging network the Leaf actually did very well. That's because it's a decent performing car that hit the sweet spot with the economics.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 09. September 2019

vmulla put forth, "Just reliable 100 miles will do."

That's the thing. It should, but it won't. For decades it was comfortably said by EV NaySayers that, "EVs will never work... unless they provide 'AT LEAST' 200 miles of range." Then, when the Tesla Model S 85 arrived with an EPA range rating of 265 miles and Tesla Enthusiasts demonstrated that using hypermiling methods it could exceed 300 miles, even 400 miles on a charge... Then EV NaySayers (Surprise!) continued to say, "Nay."

They conveniently forgot entirely about their prior declared minimum range for success and moved the goalposts to a new declaration of '500 miles at highway speeds, minimum'. This was obviously hogwash, because it is actually rather rare for cars to have a cruising range in excess of 500 miles. Fact of the matter is that in the past thirty years only one vehicle I owned or drove regularly had a consistent range in excess of 500 miles. The gasoline cars on the market today tend to give very small fuel tanks to the most efficient ICE vehicles ((around 9-to-13 gallons) and the giant fuel tanks of 19-to-25 gallons typically go to the gas guzzlers.

Before Dieselgate, AUDI A8 Diesels had an EPA rated range over 700 miles, but that was expunged and cleansed from the records when their treachery was revealed. Most cars are under 400 miles range in practice, and most performance oriented cars struggle to exceed a three hundred mile range. Gas guzzlers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s often didn't see 200 miles range, but 'gas stations were everywhere' then.

In the decades of fuel economy improvements that have occurred, many gas stations have shut down. Remember the old 'LAST CHANCE GAS!' stations that charged a 50%-to-100% premium on fuel? Many of those began to shut down thirty years ago and were pretty much crumbling dust heaps on the high plains by twenty years ago. With the now classic gas guzzling Pony cars of the 1960s and 1970s long gone, there was no one left to frequent those sites and they went out of business from disuse. There's a reason why those old GTOs, Chevelles, Camaros, Novas, Malibus, and Cutlass Supremes are tailored on flatbed now instead of rolling on their own power. They can no longer bridge the distance between gas stations without assistance, even if they weren't being preserved on the ODO for future auction.

vmulla | 09. September 2019

I'm sharing an opinion based on
1. Having a older Leaf for 3yrs and 33k miles
2. Having the newer Leaf for 18months and 16k miles
3. Understanding that cars don't need to travel such long distances elsewhere in the world
4. Being budget concious
5. Having a cumulative of 80K on my 3 Teslas

I get the Tesla advantage.

Not many households can afford two longer range EVs, one EV that can handle road trips, and another that does well as a daily driver is a good balance. That balance worked for me. I am confident there are so many others that have budget constraints like mine.

So, yes I'm convinced that there's a good market for smaller range budget EVs - even in the US where range demands are higher.

jimglas | 09. September 2019

@vmulla: There isn't much price difference between the Leaf LR and the tesla SR+

vmulla | 09. September 2019

Here's the first post I made on this topic before it went elsewhere

vmulla | September 6, 2019
I don't know about Japanese Leaf sales.

I'll just say this, I would not buy the Leaf now because the lower end Model 3 is available.


@jimglas, what I am suggesting is that there is a good market for vehicles like the older Leaf - as inexpensive commute vehicles. Tesla should get into that market when they're done selling higher end cars. In the meanwhile I'll encourage the growth of smaller range budget EVs.

jimglas | 09. September 2019

I have been encouraging my son to look at a used leaf as a commuter car
they have a toureg if needed

vmulla | 09. September 2019

Just make sure he gets the 2015 Model with newer battery tech. $10k should get you a fantastic used EV.
Also, have him consider leasing the lowest end Leaf. Do not get tempted towards higher end trims. You can get a lease for $300/month.
Your eventual goal is to convert him from the Touareg to a Tesla :)

Earl and Nagin ... | 09. September 2019

The Leaf blew it in so many ways.
1) they started with pathetic 3.3kW level 2 charging speed
2) without thermal management, the batteries die in high temperatures. They should have kept them out of CA, AZ, NM, NV, UT, and TX -- which, of course, are over half of the US EV market which also would have been a mistake. By the time my 2011 Leaf was 4 years old, I only had 1 mile of range left when I got home from work (36 miles). The new battery courtesy of Nissan was a clutch save.
3) when they finally got smart and started installing CHAdeMO 'sort-of' fast chargers, they should have put them anywhere besides dealerships. The dealerships are lousy places to hang around. Most dealers hated losing the parking spaces where they wanted to park ICE vehicles. Many dealerships are in inconvenient locations. Most dealerships are closed at night and make the chargers unavailable when the dealer is closed.
4) they should have bought decent CHAdeMO chargers. The cheap ones they bought are thermally fragile, requiring regular maintenance to vacuum the air filters or they overheat.
5) they should have installed more than one CHAdeMO charger at their locations so that one could count on finding one.
6) the Nissan app for phone control hardly ever works and, when it does, it is extremely slow to respond -- it can take a minute or more to respond with SoC while charging.
7) the advertised '100' mile range was a bold-faced lie. 45 miles would have been more realistic if the battery didn't die so fast.
Other than that, it was a good car.
Go Tesla! Let's go Nissan, don't focus on preserving your position at the bottom of the automobile market :-(

vmulla | 09. September 2019

@Earl and Nagin..
Yup they could have done a lot in the US market, and they could have made this more competitive. No contest there.

It's still a good EV elsewhere in the world, even without doing anything much in your list above.

Your observations about the range are spot on for the older Leaf vehicles, but not true for the newer battery versions. I consistently for 80mile real range in winter conditions with the lizard battery. Chademo is a joke, let's not talk about it as a viable fast charging network, the damn thing is hard to pick up and position into the charging port.

Keep in mind that it took the Model 3 SR+ to affect it's sales. The car is that good.

My point being that there's a strong market in the less range inexpensive EV segment.