|Top 15 LEAF market year-to-date in 2013. Source: Nissan Click to enlarge.|
Nissan provided a list of the top 15 markets in the US for the Nissan LEAF battery-electric vehicle. Nissan LEAF sales in the United States are up by 335% year-over-year since the launch of the enhanced 2013 model in March. (Earlier post.) Nissan has sold 11,703 LEAFs in the US during the first 7 months of 2013—an increase of 230% from the 3,543 units for the same period in 2012.
Four of the top 15 markets are in California: San Francisco (1), Los Angeles (2), San Diego (7) and Sacramento (8). Another three are on the West Coast and in Hawaii: Seattle (4), Portland (5), and Honolulu (6).
LEAF always has sold well on the West Coast for a number of reasons—state tax incentives that stack on top of federal, High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) access, environmental mindedness, a concentration of early adopters and an EV culture and enthusiasm that dates back to some of the earliest EV experiments before Nissan took them mass-market,. In fact, for several months LEAF has been the Nº 1 seller in the Nissan portfolio in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.—Erik Gottfried, Nissan director of EV Sales and Marketing
The Top 15 LEAF markets nationally, rank-ordered (Nissan does not specify sales data down to the DMA level, but does suggest reasons for the sales performance):
San Francisco. LEAF is among the top ten best-selling vehicles, regardless of powertrain.
Los Angeles. LEAF performs well because of a good charging infrastructure, a dense urban footprint and congestion.
Atlanta, a “New Wave” EV market that has nabbed the Nº 3 spot due to a number of factors including congestion where LEAF performs well, state incentives and HOV and HOT access. Georgia has a tax credit worth up to $5,000 for zero-emissions vehicles. In Atlanta, Nissan workplace outreach has resulted in more than 100 LEAF sales to Southern Company employees.
Seattle. Energy companies have been a major proponent in developing the West Coast Electric Highway that has helped to educate consumers and raise awareness for EVs.
Portland. Oregon has a Chief EV Officer to promote EV use.
Honolulu, with 26 quick chargers, has one of densest charging grids in the US. The island environment also makes it easier to strategically place charging points so that EV drivers have easy access to reach key destinations. EVs fit into a larger energy-independence initiative in Hawaii since the state can make its own energy and become less reliant on shipping in fuel.
San Diego ranks in the top LEAF cities for many of the same reasons in other California and West Coast markets: state tax incentives, HOV/HOT access and general environment-mindedness.
Sacramento as state capital has a high level of awareness and education around EVs with a concentration of early adopters and an appreciation of EV culture.
Nashville, home of Nissan Americas headquarters and the plants that assemble both LEAF and its battery. Many “New Wave” EV markets demonstrate a high level of viral sales growth. In Nashville, Nissan gives credit to a robust charging infrastructure and a core group of employee enthusiasts who raised awareness of the practicality of the vehicle in the market in 2011.
St. Louis, where the reasons for growth in this “New Wave” market include enthusiastic dealer engagement that results in increased community education and awareness, corporate and university outreach and midwestern pragmatism that appreciates the value equation of an EV.
Chicago and Denver (tied). In Chicago, charging infrastructure growth has been more recent and now is robust. Illinois provides a $4,000 state tax incentive for purchases and reduced registration fees. Driving habits in Chicago also are heavy with suburban to urban commuting patterns. The enhanced driving range of the 2013 LEAF—partially enabled by the energy-efficient hybrid heater that is an especially important feature for Chicago—has helped make the EV a viable commuter car in this huge car market, Nissan said.
Helping to popularize LEAF in the greater Denver market is Colorado’s $6,000 state tax credit, EV enthusiast dealers who sponsor considerable grassroots education and awareness activities and a general green-mindedness in the market.
Washington D.C. Again, the compact footprint with urban-suburban commutes in easy range, strong LEAF demographics of highly educated buyers in a tech corridor and a quickly growing fast charger network lend to the increasing popularity of LEAF in the nation’s capital. Additionally, for the greater D.C. area, Maryland offers a $1,000 EV tax credit.
Dallas-Ft. Worth, which has a healthy charging infrastructure in the state that is home to NRG’s eVgo, which provides car charging services. Adoption of EVs in the market also has been accelerated by peer-to-peer selling at tech and transportation workplaces such as Texas Instruments and BNSF Railroad. Texas is planning to offer a $2,500 state rebate for EV purchases.
New York City. Demographics and compact footprint have helped make EVs popular in communities surrounding Manhattan. Communities in the market such as Princeton and Westchester and areas of Long Island and New Jersey that are conducive to home charging are the most popular. The New York market also benefits from sales of small EV fleets, including the NY Department of Sanitation. High-visibility projects such as the LEAF taxi pilot have helped to raise consumer awareness.