For a large proportion of Americans, January and February weren’t particularly good months to be outside, with record-breaking snowfall and bitter arctic winds courtesy of the now famous ‘Polar Vortex.’ With sub-zero temperatures, heavy ice storms and blizzards reaching as far south as Georgia, combined with a seasonal lull in new car sales, you’d expect there to be far less people shopping for a new car than say, the spring.
Yet sales of Nissan’s all-electric LEAF totalled 1,425 cars in February, smashing last year’s sales record for the month by 772 cars, an increase of 118.2 percent.
Announced this morning, a full two days ahead of the usual sales report, Nissan’s impressive LEAF sales figures for the month might not make the LEAF a best-seller for the Japanese automaker when compared with its other cars — that accolade goes to the gasoline-powered Altima with 30,829 sales last month alone — but it does make the LEAF the car with the largest percentage year to date increase in sales.
The spike in sales also demonstrates why Nissan announced back in January that it was planning to increase U.S. production of the LEAF to as many as 40,000 or maybe even 50,000 cars per year.
As a traditionally slow month in the automotive world, Nissan’s massive increase in LEAF sales over previous years (67 in February 2011, 478 in February 2012 and 653 in February 2013) shows that the LEAF and other plug-in cars are slowly moving from a niche-market position into a more mainstream role. That transition won’t happen overnight, but it’s worth pointing out that the increase in LEAF sales pushed it above many other Nissan models that are considered more conventional in nature.
In fact, the LEAF outsold Nissan’s Cube, 370Z, GT-R, Titan pickup, Armada SUV, Quest Minivan and both the NV and NV200 trucks. It also outsold the majority of Infiniti’s luxury car lineup with the exception of the Infiniti QX60 and the Q50.
At this point of course, we should point out that it’s not particularly fair to compare the LEAF’s sales against other Nissan cars from different classes. But what is interesting to note is that many of the cars the LEAF beat in sales figures suffered significant (ten to twenty percent) drops in sales compared to last year, despite Nissan’s overall division sales marking a 16.7 percent increase compared to February last year.
Here at Transport Evolved we tend to steer clear of the majority of electric car sales figures, partly because the electric car market is in a lot of flux as new models join the marketplace and a wider choice is offered, but also because our friends over at GreenCarReports do such an amazing job of analyzing those figures every month. But in this case, we felt the dramatic increase in LEAF sales for February 2014 compared with the same period last year was worth mentioning, because had the weather been less horrific, we’re sure Nissan’s sales figures for the LEAF would have been far, far higher.
Is February’s strong LEAF figures indicative of electric cars becoming more acceptable to own, more mainstream in society? Was it caused by a spike in first-generation LEAF owners upgrading to the 2014 model after three years with their original 2011? Or is this a sign that like the hybrid car, electric cars are here to stay?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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