Sales of the Nissan Leaf haven't been as high as CEO Carlos Ghosn once predicted, and Nissan is now admitting that part of the problem is the way Nissan itself presented the car. But don't worry, Nissan vice president for sales, Al Castignetti, told Automotive News, a change is coming. It makes sense to shift tactics, since Castignetti himself said Nissan was, "a little bit arrogant as a manufacturer when we went to the 50-state rollout."

The problem, Nissan now says, was that the company made the all-electric car available in places where there was no infrastructure – or not enough – to welcome new buyers. As Leaf production ramps up in Tennessee, the way the all-electric vehicle is marketed will shift from a "here it is, come and get it" strategy to one where potential buyers are specifically targeted. Castignetti told AN that Nissan is "telling our dealers, 'You don't market this car traditionally. You don't put it in the newspaper. You need to go and find the electric car buyer in your market.'"

Nissan has to hope this will work, since the company has talked about doubling Leaf sales once Tennessee production is up and running. Currently, somewhere around 1,000 units (sometimes much lower, sometimes up to 1,500) are sold in the US every month. When the Tennessee plant is up to full production (early production starts in January), Nissan will be able to make 150,000 units a year there.


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  • 110 Comments
      sjmoo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think part of the Leaf's problem is pretty simple: it's ugly. At first the design attracted people because it was different and they wanted to be noticed. Unfortunately, there aren't a huge number of potential EV buyers like that. I think the Leaf is a genuinely good vehicle for the most part, but it is going to have to adopt vastly more mainstream looks if it wants to come anywhere close to its sales targets.
        _I_I_II_I_I_
        • 2 Days Ago
        @sjmoo
        BRAVO, agree. I got one despite its looks. And I am a huge car design fanatic.
      Jeremy Pennini
      • 2 Years Ago
      Understatement of the year.
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Days Ago
      Also the one Nissan salesman that I did speak to on the phone was not well informed about the vehicle.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still don't think Nissan got to the heart of the matter. The problem isn't just the hubris of selling to places where there is no infrastructure. The problem also leads back to Nissan's "polar bear" ads. The problem is Nissan felt that all they had to do was build it and it would sell. This is true to an extent, there is an in-built demand for a vehicle like this. The problem is that isn't enough demand to produce the sales Nissan wants. In order to produce enough sales, they have to create customers. That may mean lowering prices, or it may mean raising awareness of how the vehicle can benefit the consumer and not just the environment.
      Jan Calloway
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's a sales tactic, how about dropping the price of the small ugly car. Its not cute enough to be a niche car, not swoopy or powerful enough to play with. It may be cutting edge but ugly, plain and expensive do not draw customers. Seeing that in a driveway will not inspire people to envy the person owning it. Either 1. make it attractive, 2. make it fun, or 3 drop the price and sale them like hot potatoes and make a profit by watching a gazillion leave the nissan lots.
        noevfud
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Jan Calloway
        They have. Have you ever driven one?
          edward.stallings
          • 2 Days Ago
          @noevfud
          LMFAO - didn't realize you had one! So if more people buy one you won't feel so stupid? I bet you are hoping for the mother of all gas shortages.
          pmpjunkie01
          • 2 Days Ago
          @noevfud
          @ edward.stallings It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln
      ThinkAboutIt
      • 2 Days Ago
      So let me see if I've got this right: Castignetti told AN that Nissan is "telling our dealers, 'You don't market this car traditionally. You don't put it in the newspaper. You need to go and find the electric car buyer in your market.'" Translation: "We're tired of spending money to promote this turd. Good luck boys, you're on your own."
      ELG
      • 2 Days Ago
      I just got an email from my local nissan for $200 / month 24 month lease with $0 down on a leaf, with 60 free days of rental cars. im pretty tempted
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Days Ago
        @ELG
        With the savings, you can rent a car when you need to go more than 35 miles away. That way you know you won't have to call a tow truck to get home.
        noevfud
        • 2 Days Ago
        @ELG
        If it includes taxes and registration go for it. If you live in CA then get the extra $2500!
      Jesus!
      • 2 Days Ago
      You know I have only seen about 2 of these since they came out(Houston area here). I think its more of an ugly problem than anything. Anything that resembles a Pacer or Volvo C30 is bound to do poorly in sales.
        Shiftright
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Jesus!
        The Volvo C30 is way cool, and I would rock a Pacer any day. This thing is just awkward
        Echelon Bob
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Jesus!
        Volvo C30 is a beautiful car! If the Leaf really looked like the Volvo C30, it would sell much better.
      _I_I_II_I_I_
      • 2 Days Ago
      I recently got a Leaf, and I think they missed a huge opportunity. They should be talking about how cool it feels to drive this car. It feels like the future. I'm a car guy through & through, always have been, and my other car is powered by an Audi 4.2L V8, a pretty wonderful ICE. But I love driving the Leaf. It's fast, crazy quiet, and it moves like magic. If you haven't driven a purely EV (not a hybrid) try it, and see if you like it.
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Days Ago
        @_I_I_II_I_I_
        How cool does it feel to bum a ride to get 50 miles away? That's what the average person has to ask. If you can afford 2 or more cars with insurance and want to play with your golf cart coupe, that's nice, but $32K will buy a nice used C6 Vette with low miles. That is fast, gets really good mileage for the performance and.... suppose it won't go over well at greenpeace gatherings...never mind.
          CarNutMike
          • 2 Days Ago
          @edward.stallings
          If you have to drive 50 miles from your home all the time and can't afford a 2nd car, I suppose the Leaf is not for you. I would suggest you not get one but, by all means, continue to tell us how badly the car that doesn't work for you sucks. We're all very interested. - Off to tell corvetteforums how bad the new C7 will be because it can't seat 5.
          Sox05
          • 2 Days Ago
          @edward.stallings
          Well said Ak-tually55! People like edward are ignorant idiots.
          _I_I_II_I_I_
          • 2 Days Ago
          @edward.stallings
          Ed. It's not for everybody. For reasons I won't bore you with here, my family of five needed another car. My wife and I both work six miles from our home. We don't even have our 240V charger installed yet (been running off the wall plug for 7 weeks) and it suits our needs just fine! If you needed to do long trips, it would not be a good 'only' car. And yeah, 'Vettes are hard to beat for performance for the money!
          • 2 Days Ago
          @edward.stallings
          Because of idiots like you, U.S. is addicted to oil. You probably own a gun too and will go to war against every country that does not support your rotten thinking.
        CarNutMike
        • 2 Days Ago
        @_I_I_II_I_I_
        I've been saying the same thing for years. Between the silence, perfect smoothness, and single speed gearing, EVs come with the most refined drivetrains available at any price. The enthusiast press is comparing the Tesla Model S *directly* to equally or even more expensive Merc/Audi/Porsche/BMW alternatives. The drivetrain is the discriminator.
      Dave
      • 2 Days Ago
      Step 1. Build a product that is less useful than the competition. Step 2. Charge more for it. Is that arrogant?
      nobody23753
      • 2 Days Ago
      Ford Future: You makew me LAUGH. The ECONOMICS???????? EV ECONOMICS SUCK RHINO!!!!!
      Ford Future
      • 2 Days Ago
      An EV buyer doesn't care about it's looks. The economics are the important thing, the pure air, in your garage, in your neighborhood are more important. The fun to drive a car using No Gas. The Patriotism, that you, can send your own message to the Saudi Princes who Fund Islamic Terrorism, is the important thing. Nobody cares about the looks. It looks aerodynamic, better for the highway.
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