Nissan LEAF Electric Car Still Top in Europe After Four Years. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Top Plug-in for 2014

Ever since the Nissan LEAF launched in the U.S. late in 2010, it has sat at the top of the plug-in car charts, becoming both America’s and the world’s most popular all-electric car.

Now Nissan has confirmed that the LEAF has retained its leadership of the all-electric car charts in Europe for the fourth year running, beating other popular plug-in cars like the Renault Zoe, Tesla Model S, and BMW i3 to the top spot.

Nissan's all-electric LEAF accounted for more than a quarter of all electric car sales in Europe last year

Nissan’s all-electric LEAF accounted for more than a quarter of all electric car sales in Europe last year

Selling 14,658 cars, the LEAF accounted for 26 percent of the 56, 393 all-electric cars sold across Europe last year, a 33% increase in volume over the 2013’s sales totals.

It carefully mirrors a similar success in the U.S., where Nissan LEAFs accounted for more than 30,000 of the 100,000+ plug-in cars sold in 2014.

Despite its limited range, Nissan says its LEAF is being driven far more than the average diesel or petrol car across Europe, with many European LEAF owners clocking up more than 2,000 to 5,000 miles more in a year than the average driver in their home country.

Europe-wide Nissan says, LEAF owners are drive on average 40 percent further per year than their non plug-in counterparts. The reason? No-one knows for sure, but we’re guessing low running costs and free rapid charging in many parts of Europe has something to do with it.

It's official: LEAF owners in Europe drive more than their gasoline-owning counterparts.

It’s official: LEAF owners in Europe drive more than their gasoline-owning counterparts.

The increase in LEAF sales across Europe is also great news for the British town of Sunderland, where all European-market LEAFs and the battery packs needed to power them are made. When we toured Nissan’s British production facilities back in December, we were told that Nissan’s production facilities were readying themselves to add an additional shift to keep up with demand and that means an increase in staff. As any economist will tell you, hiring more staff gives a massive boost to the economy, even when those benefiting only have a tangential connection to the facility.

While the Nissan LEAF accounted for just over a quarter of all plug-in car sales in Europe last year, the five-seat ZOE hatchback — made by Nissan’s partner automaker Renault — accounted for another 20 per cent of all EV sales, totalling 11,227 cars.

Tesla’s luxury Model S electric car came in third place, with 15 per cent (8,734) of European plug-in sales, while the BMW i3 came in third place with 10 percent of the market share (5,804). In fifth place came the Volkswagen e-Up, with 5,365 sales.

Mitsubishi wins plug-in vehicle sales charts, with nearly 20,000 Outlander PHEVs sold last year across Europe.

Mitsubishi wins plug-in vehicle sales charts, with nearly 20,000 Outlander PHEVs sold last year across Europe.

Although the Nissan LEAF was the best-selling all-electric car in Europe for the consecutive fourth year however, it failed to win the crown of the most popular plug-in vehicle across Europe last year.

That crown went to the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, which sold an impressive 19,980  cars across Europe last year, beating the LEAF by some 5,322 units.

Obviously, Nissan hopes to retain its crown for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, but with more plug-in models than ever before entering the marketplace, we’re curious to know if it will.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Martin

    My wife looked at BMW i3, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander and went for the Outlander partly because is such a nice car to drive, partly due to the large cargo space, and partly because the charging infrastructure was not mature enough in the summer of 2014 for our occasional 700 mile each way trips to visit family in the south of England. Can go for weeks without using the petrol engine in nice weather when at home, but its needed to clear the screen in winter. Its good though that sales are rising for nearly all plug in cars, I think that people are getting more comfortable with the idea and that it may make sense for them even if they keep an ICE car as a second family car for longer trips in the mean time.