The 2013 Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf Sales Slowed by Production Constraints


The Nissan Leaf has seen sales rise gradually over the past few months as there has been more and more interest from new markets around the United States but the continued sales growth has hit a wall due to the company’s inability to build enough EVs to satisfy the demand.

When the Nissan Leaf was introduced back in 2010, the early deliveries were slowed by production constraints as the Japanese automaker worked to satisfy the first 20,000 pre-orders. The main problem was that the company was building the Leaf in Japan and shipping units to markets around the world but it wasn’t that big of a problem as Nissan only needed to supply enough EVs to satisfy the demand in those early, select US markets. Fortunately, Nissan launched production of the Leaf at the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee and that increased production capacity allowed the Leaf to surge ahead of the Chevy Volt in monthly sales through the early parts of this year.

However, as sales of the Nissan Leaf have spread to new markets around the US, the company is once again unable to provide enough units around the country to meet the increased level of demand. The increased production capacity thanks to the efforts of the Smyrna plant allowed Nissan to comfortably meet the demand of those initial markets in west coast areas like San Francisco and Seattle east coast locations like New York but increased interest throughout the American Midwest has once again caused demand for the Leaf to exceed the current production capacities. According to Automotive News, Midwestern cites including Dallas, St Louis and Chicago have seen a boom in Leaf and EV segment interest along with some southern east coast cities like Raleigh and Atlanta – which has become the Leaf’s 3rd best market in the US.

One advantage of selling a bunch of cars in one general area is that the automaker doesn’t need to worry about getting as many vehicles to smaller dealerships in, say, California because if a given dealership doesn’t have a Nissan Leaf in stock, they can make a call to a nearby dealership to set up a dealer trade to make the sale. Nissan could send a bunch of Leaf EVs to California last year - where roughly 37% of all Leafs sold in the US were purchased in 2012 – and if dealership A doesn’t have one, they can make a call to dealership B that is an hour away to see about getting a Leaf out of their new car stock. However, that doesn’t work for these budding Midwest markets as when there is only 1 Leaf in a 300 mile radius, there is no one else in the area that can be called to save the sale.

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