Sales of the Nissan Leaf are expected to surge 25 percent in Europe this year and another double digits in 2015, according to Nissan Europe's electric cars director, Jean-Pierre Diernaz. The Leaf is currently the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe with sales of 12,655 units in the first 10 months of 2014 for a 40-percent jump, according to data from JATO Dynamics.
The strong gains are attributed to lower sticker prices and leasing rates since Nissan launched the Leaf in Europe in 2010. Diernaz told Automotive News Europe that said the average lease rate for the Leaf in Europe has fallen to around EUR250 a month from EUR400 in 2010. In fact, the Leaf can be leased in France for just EUR169 a month once government incentives are counted.
The Leaf is also heavily discounted in some markets. For instance, Nissan is offering a Leaf Visia in the United Kingdom at GBP18,290 following a price cut of GBP3,200 (EUR4,066) – which means that it has a tag similar to compact cars such the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Diernaz remarked that Nissan was able to achieve cost savings after shifting output of European versions of the Leaf from Japan to the UK in 2013. Nissan sold almost 3,000 Leafs in the UK in the first nine months of the year.
He noted that despite the lower prices, Nissan is still getting enough profit from selling the Leaf. He added that more customers prefer the battery-leasing option, which allows them to pay a monthly rental charge for guaranteed battery reliability, service and life.
He disclosed that the average take-up for battery leasing is around 25 percent in Europe -- around 50 percent in France; 10- 12 percent in the UK; and zero percent in Norway.
According to Diernaz, Nissan expects the electric version of the NV200 minivan to account for about 20 percent of its EV sales in Europe. The e-NV200, which is produced in Nissan’s Barcelona site in Spain, is powered by the same battery pack found in the Leaf.