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Nissan to keep ‘plugging away’ on Leaf EV

Holding on: Nissan's all-electric Leaf will remain in the company's local line-up, despite low sales.

Nissan will continue to push electric car cause in Australia, despite low Leaf sales

Nissan logo17 Jul 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

NISSAN remains committed to the Leaf electric vehicle in Australia, despite low demand and limited infrastructure that has contributed to only 79 sales of the pioneering battery-powered car so far this year.

While no change in buyer sentiment or government assistance is expected any time soon, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery believes that continuing to offer the Leaf will pay big dividends once momentum starts to shift towards EVs.

“Nissan has been a pioneer in that area,” he told GoAuto this week.

“I know it’s been difficult in the Australian marketplace for electric cars because of infrastructure and range issues in Australia. But I think of all the brands, we should and will hang in there with Leaf.

“I suspect the electric market will move and come in our direction. I’m not sure whether it will be in five years or in 10 years, but it will come in our direction.

“And I’d like to make sure that we maintain that we’ve been around the longest, and that we are the pre-eminent electric car brand in the country.”

Mr Emery said the company’s position as one of the earliest adopters of battery-powered cars will become increasingly important when the market starts to improve.

“I think it would be silly thing to do, to walk away from Leaf, only to be back in it five years from now,” he said. “We’d rather just hang in there.

“We don’t have any huge expectations for it in terms of volume. We’re there now, and we actually do some pretty solid business – it keeps punching out 20 or so cars a month.

“We can just keep doing that, although we keep working with potential owners who would need a car or a fleet of EVs like the Leaf, so we don’t set and forget it. We certainly work it.

“But it’s not something we’re nervous about, upset about, frustrated about it is what it is in this market and we’ll keep plugging away, because we think that if the business does come our way, we want to be there first, waiting in line.”

Nissan’s 79 Leaf sales for the first six months are two units up on its total at the same point last year but reflect the low status of the electric vehicle market in Australia.

Only 114 electric cars have been sold throughout the entire industry, the other 35 going to Holden’s Volt, which is down 47.8 per cent YTD.

Nissan Australia expects the new BMW i3 – to be sold as a full-electric car (like Leaf) and as a range-extending plug-in hybrid (like Volt) – will help stoke interest in the niche segment once the range hits the market in the final quarter.

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