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Leaf to stay number one: Nissan

Numero uno: The new-gen Leaf will still be the number one best-selling EV globally, according to its maker.

Nissan has faith in all-new Leaf as customer deliveries kick off

14 Feb 2018

NISSAN is confident its new-generation Leaf hatchback will retain its title as the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, despite the imminent arrival of affordable competitors including Tesla’s Model 3.

The Japanese car-maker has sold 300,000 examples of the Leaf globally since its late-2010 debut and Nissan is already holding 40,000 pre-orders in various markets for the second-generation model before people have even had a chance to drive it.

Speaking at the Nissan Futures event in Singapore last week, Nissan Motor Company director of the global EV business unit Nicholas Thomas said the company believed the Leaf would continue its dominance in the segment.

“We see electric vehicles as a huge part of the future of our industry and a huge part of the future of our business,” he said. “And we fully intend at Nissan to maintain our leadership position. But how are we going to do that? “Well firstly, lots of people are talking about what they are going to do in 2022, 2025, 2030 – that is great for them. I don’t have to talk about that because I have got that (Leaf). That is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. It is the new generation of it. It is a fantastic car and I am very confident it is going to stay as the world’s best-selling electric vehicle.”

 center imageLeft: Nissan Motor Company director of the global EV business unit Nicholas Thomas

As previously reported, there will be 12 electric vehicles on offer across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance by 2022.

As of August last year, Tesla was holding 518,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 that is set to become the US-based EV-maker’s entry-level model with a starting price of about $US35,000 in America.

While it is not yet clear how much it will cost in Australia, some reports have suggested it will start at about $50,000, which is not far off where Nissan’s new Leaf is expected to start when it lobs before the end of the year.

When asked if he was convinced that the Leaf would outsell the Model 3, Mr Thomas took a not so subtle swipe at Tesla and the delays in production and delivery of the Model 3, saying: “I am convinced that I can build and sell those very quickly.

“We are delivering cars to customers in Japan. We are delivering cars to customers in Europe. We are about to begin delivering cars to customers in US and Canada. The rest of the world, we are rolling out very quickly,” he added.

Mr Thomas declined to name competitors in the EV segment, but said Nissan’s experience in building EVs and its existing customer base would help it stay ahead.

“I am not going to name one individual competitor. I think it is a really exciting time for us. For us at Nissan we are really, really confident in our plan and also the plans of our alliance partners.

“Am I worried about competition? No not at all. I am really excited that now is the time for EVs. I am really excited we have a head start. I am really excited we already have 350,000 customers (Leaf and e-NV200). We have already got 10 years of experience of building and selling these cars. And all of this has gone into this new car which is just a fantastic machine, I am so proud of that car every time I get to drive it.”

Mr Thomas said he embraced the increasing number of competitors in the sector as it helped spread the word about EV technology to consumers and relevant stakeholders.

“A big part of my job is to educate the customer, to educate government, to educate industry, utilities on what EVs really mean. And the more people that are helping me to do that the better it is. I think my car stands up extremely well versus anybody else’s, so I have no problem with that. I am very happy to go back-to-back versus anybody else.

“The more people that know about EVs the more people that realise that EVs are ready, that they are a reliable, valuable choice.”

When asked about why Nissan was not investing more in developing hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain technology, Mr Thomas said battery EVs were still more efficient and ready to be embraced by consumers.

“There are 40,000 orders around the world without people seeing or touching the Leaf. Customers are ready to accept EVs. Hydrogen is not ready. It is an interesting technology for the future. I would say hydrogen today though, is nowhere near as efficient as EVs.

“The idea you have a solar panel on your roof, and a direct connection to the vehicle, therefore you are 100 per cent renewable and 95 per cent efficient in converting the power of the sun to the power of the vehicle – hydrogen can’t do that. Even if you are burning coal to produce electricity, an EV is a much more efficient way of using the electricity than either petrol or hydrogen.

“So for many of the challenges we are facing, importantly they (EVs) are ready today and they are a much more efficient solution that ICE (internal combustion engines) or hydrogen. Do I see some potential for hydrogen for in the future? Potentially.”

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