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Monday, June 18, 2012

Nissan Sees Leaf Sales Doubling As US Factory Begins Production

Nissan will overcome a slowdown in deliveries of its all-electric Leaf vehicle, doubling U.S. sales to 20,000 during its current fiscal year, the vice chairman of its U.S. unit said.

A new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, will be ready to make the cars in December, helping boost supply before the fiscal year ends in March, Nissan’s Bill Krueger said in an interview yesterday in Los Cabos, Mexico, where he was visiting for the B-20 business summit. The automaker also is expanding sales nationally after beginning in seven states, he said.

Leaf sales have dropped the past two months, trailing GM’s rechargeable Chevrolet Volt and Toyota's plug-in Prius in May. Overseas, however, Leaf has fared better. Sales so far this fiscal year are up 125 percent in Japan, where demand was hurt last year by the March earthquake and tsunami. They are also up 207 percent in Europe, where the Leaf did not roll out as quickly.

Nissan has sold 37,285 Leaf since it was introduced. Of that figure, 17,710 have been sold in Japan; 13,921 in North America; 4,881 in Europe; and 773 in other markets, Nissan said. The Leaf is made in a single plant in Japan.

“We’ve had to fulfill demand from one plant globally,” Krueger said. “Once we localize it in December, the second half of the fiscal year is when we’ll see most of the supply, demand be available.”

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