Demand for Nissan Leaf is spreading across the US

Article by Anita Panait, on July 16, 2013

Demand for the Nissan Leaf has been sprouting across the United States, resulting to more sales for the Japanese carmaker’s much-touted electric vehicle. Nissan is now selling the Leaf EV at a rate of more than 2,000 a month, which is four times the sales figure in 2012.  Erik Gottfried, Nissan's director of electric vehicle sales and marketing, met with dealers in Dallas, Texas, which are now demanding for more Leafs in their stores.

Dealers, however, have to wait a little as sales of the Leaf have already led to shortage in supply. Gottfried remarked that he has been telling dealers that they will be a shortage on Leaf inventory all through the summer.

Nissan is slowly ramping up production of the Leaf at its Smyrna site in Tennessee. Gottfried said that there would be enough Leafs for dealers by late fall. Not only sales of the Leaf are increasing, but also the number of geographic locations where consumers are demanding for the EV.

This presents quite a challenge for Gottfried and Nissan’s dealers to cater to all these demand, which in the past two years were only concentrated in more environmentally minded cities on the West Coast, like San Francisco and Seattle.

Gottfried said dealers from Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago and Raleigh, N.C. are asking for supplies of the EV. He noted that while not every dealer “has pursued selling the Leaf yet," one dealer in a city “will start marketing the car and have great success with it” and other dealers in the market will realize the opportunity and start selling the EV. 

California now only accounts for 27 percent of Nissan Leaf sales from 37 percent in 2012, as EV slowly but surely penetrate other markets in the US. According to Gottfried, one of the factors in the rise of Leaf sales is the launch of a trim line in early 2013 that trimmed the starting price by over $6,000, to $29,750, including shipping. Buyers are also qualified to federal tax credit of $7,500 maximum.

On the interior of the Nissan LEAF, customers are bound to see some important changes. An obvious change in the cabin would be the new seats. The ones in the front for instance have been redesigned to offer better support. In addition, the front seats now have height adjustment incorporated to them. Further, the seats were reshaped in order to give those sitting in the rear an additional leg room of 53 mm.

To make this possible, Nissan reprofiled not only the driver seat but also the one for the front passenger. This has resulted in those sitting in the rear to be able to put their feet under the front seats and thus experience increased leg room. On the exterior, the front section is designed like the previous models. That is, it has been framed with the slim headlights that have been positioned in an almost vertical manner.

For top models, these headlights will come with LED lighting. The lights also offer another function in that they can channel airflow away from the vehicle’s doors. As a result, aerodynamics is improved while wind noise is reduced. Nissan revealed that in designing the body, the philosophy of “smart fluidity” was used. It begins with the kicked-up roofline that manages to combine with a large spoiler.

Another interesting feature is that while it does have that wind cheating shape, this is enhanced with the smooth and flat underfloor. On the rear section, the defining feature is the vertical, thin, and gently curved taillights. That said, the rear section shows no sign of any exhaust pipe. Nissan disclosed as well that it has expanded the available colors for the exterior.

Initially only blue pearl metallic, metallic silver, and white pearl were offered. Added are black metallic, grey, red pearl metallic, and solid white. That means there is now a total of seven colors to choose from. In terms of configuration, the LEAF was created by making use of the bespoke EV platform. Overall length is 4,445 mm, total width is at 1,770, while the height is at 1,550 mm.

Wheelbase meanwhile measured 2,700 mm. This resulted in a shape that is both unique and at the same time highly aerodynamic. Nissan also made small changes to the grille, which is in fact the sole visual change between the original LEAF and the new version. Implementing a 17-inch wheel design meant a reduction of the coefficient of drag (Cd) to 0.28.

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