On December 11, 2010, Nissan delivered its first production LEAF electric car to San Francisco Bay Area resident Olivier Chalouhi. Since then, more than 160,000 Nissan LEAFs have been made and sold worldwide, thanks to continued interest in the all-electric hatch.
Since its launch, U.S. LEAF sales have been on an upward climb, making it the best-selling electric car in the U.S. to date. And on Sunday, the Japanese automaker celebrated selling its 75,000th LEAF to a U.S. customer.
Enter Rishabh Mehandru of Portland, Oregon, who became the owner of the 75,000th U.S.-market LEAF when he traded in his 2013 LEAF for a brand-new 2015 Nissan LEAF SV model at Carr Nissan in Beaverton, Oregon.
A senior engineer at Intel’s large Portland campus, Mehandru has a 30-mile daily commute, and finds the Nissan LEAF suits his needs perfectly.
“I’m a runner, and when I ran outside I found that I was inhaling a lot of exhaust from the gas-powered cars that passed me on the roads,” he said of his original decision to dump the pump for a plug. “I instantly became aware of the amount of fuel I was burning, and that’s when I first decided I wanted to get an electric car.”
Like many other LEAF customers across the U.S., Mehandru leased his first Nissan LEAF rather than purchase it outright, helping to minimise any risks to him associated with battery degradation or a drop in residual value.
When his lease came to an end and he handed the car back, he couldn’t imagine going back to gasoline.
“When the lease was up on my first Nissan LEAF, I knew that I didn’t want another car. I had to have another Nissan LEAF,” he explained. “I love how quickly I can get up to speed on the highway—even my three-year-old son notices how zippy it is—and I like that I don’t have to stop for gas.”
Unlike many U.S. states, Portland does not offer a state-funded incentive to plug-in car owners. However, it does have one of the best rapid and destination charging provision of any U.S. state, proving that electric car adoption isn’t driven exclusively by purchase incentives.
Although Nissan LEAF sales to date have shown a definite upward trend, sales of the LEAF in January and February were much lower than in recent months. Driven by unseasonably cold weather in many parts of the U.S., the fall in sales — which is considered normal for the start of the year across the automotive industry — could also be explained by the expectation that Nissan will release its second-generation LEAF electric car later this year or early next as a 2016 or 2017 model-year car.
With an expected range of 150 miles per charge or more — far in excess of the EPA-rated 84 miles per charge of the current LEAF — the next-generation LEAF is also expected to be more mainstream and conventional in its design in an attempt to encourage more people behind the wheel.
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