Nissan Leaf sales in Japan remain strong

Nissan Leaf sales in Japan by March, 2018

Last month Nissan Leaf sales declined in Japan, but when compared to previous years, they remained strong. In March, 2.997 Nissan Leaf units were sold in Japan.

However, it’s clear that Japanese customers still prefer hybrid cars, especially because they are cheaper. Currently, I think that with modern electric cars, range or charging time aren’t as much of a problem as price still is.

We are led to believe that electric cars are inherently more expensive to make and consider 30.000 € electric cars affordable, but they aren’t. Price is definitely the biggest barrier to electric car adoption.


Anyway, let’s see the best selling cars in Japan last month.

  1. Nissan Note: 19.356
  2. Toyota Prius: 15.688
  3. Nissan Serena: 15.080
  4. Toyota Aqua (Prius C): 14.778
  5. Honda Fit: 12.503

The Nissan Leaf was the best selling electric car at the 35º position.

It’s interesting that all these car models at the top 5, are either hybrids or at least available in hybrid variants. Even the minivan Nissan Serena is now available (since last month) with the e-POWER (series hybrid) variant, which helped to boost sales. The e-POWER powertrain is also responsible for Nissan Note’s high sale figures in Japan.

As a side note, in Japan the Nissan Note e-POWER price starts at 1.901.880 JPY (14.487 €), while the Nissan Leaf has a starting price of 3.150.360 JPY (23.992 €).

I often criticize Toyota for praising hybrids while ignoring all electric cars, but ultimately it’s better to praise hybrids than diesels. If automakers aren’t willing to sell affordable electric cars (below 20.000 €), they should at least sell gasoline-electric hybrids at that price point, since they are much better for our heath than diesels. Nissan promised to bring the series hybrid e-POWER powertrain to the Juke and the Micra, but we’re still waiting.

It’s clear that people that are already driving hybrids are the easiest group to then convince to upgrade to all electric cars. This means that the first automaker to offer real affordable electric cars have a huge market in Japan.

What do you think? Are hybrids a needed stopgap? When will an electric car reach the top 5 of most sold cars in Japan?


Thanks Michał for the heads up.



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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3 years ago

Cool !!!

3 years ago

If I remember correctly Delphi claimed that their mild hybrid systems could deliver 80% of fuel savings of a hybrid at 30% of the cost. If that’s the case then every new car sold in EU should be at least a mild hybrid. According to this article a petrol car with a mild hybrid system is 500-1000 € cheaper to make than an equivalent diesel.

3 years ago
Reply to  KM

That probably depends on what hybrid you compare with. I think 80% is a lot for only 30% of the cost.

3 years ago
Reply to  Lars

I have found the link. It is actually up to 70% of the benefit of a full hybrid (not 80% as I said in my previous comment) at 30% of the cost.
I remember watching an interview with a presentation from Delphi which was really interesting. I can’t find it.

3 years ago
Reply to  Lars

The question is how realistic these numbers are? And how much is 70% of full hybrid? I mean if full hybrid is like 10% more efficient than conventional, than 30% extra in cost for 7% more efficiency isn’t really that attractive.

3 years ago

Sorry that my question is off topic, but does anyone know what the usable capacity of the new Nissan Leaf battery is? Are we talking about 40 kWh, or is this the usual Nissan figure where the usable capacity is somewhat lower?

3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

From a mathematical point of view 39,46 kWh is closer to 39 than to 40. And 36 kWh usable is only 8 kWh more than the Ioniq Electric. If we disregard size we can compare the new Leaf with the Renault Zoe, it has a 41 kWh battery and can charge with 22 kW. The Zoe is not for very long drives because it takes to long to charge the 41 kWh battery with 22 kW, but you end with the same with the Leaf if you quick charge multiple times.

3 years ago

I changed from Diesel to Eletric (or am going, when our nissan leaf is delivered here in Portugal), without going by the hybrid. My toughts were:
– Halfway option would be a hybrid plugin (I make 50km/day so would be ok for daily use), but their cost alone (around 40KEUR) are much higher than the Leaf (30KEUR).
– Hybrid traditional (toyota/lexus), seem to me as having the good but also the bad of both worlds:
-Pros: Less pollutant and consumption than gas alone, quick refill vs eletric…
-Cons: similar consumption cost to Diesel (eur/km), high maintenance (probably higher than simple gas cars as system more complicated), long term cost (battery change?!)…

Bearing the above, I personally decided to go with the new Leaf…

3 years ago

I bought the new leaf in November in Japan and it is great. Recently I had to drive a petrol car after several months using only the leaf and it was like getting on a steam train, I had forgotten about the noise and non instant acceleration. Also the e-pedal is so convenient, I can not imaging going back to a regular accelator/braking.