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USA: Nissan Leaf’s U.S. sales may jump after production starts here

Nissan sold just 370 Leaf electric vehicles in the U.S. last month and only 2,103 so far this year. To put this in perspective, the U.S. auto industry has sold almost 4.7-million vehicles this year.

But as Andy Palmer, executive vice president of Nissan’s Yokohama, Japan-based global operations, notes, the U.S. sales numbers don’t provide much of a marker for the success of the first mass-market electric car in several generations.

Nissan will build about 50,000 Leafs this year, all in Japan, and all paid for in yen. It makes sense for Nissan to sell as much production as possible in its home country because that’s where it can make the most money on the car because of currency exchange rates.

The Japanese are taking to the electric car faster than Americans. Leaf sales there so far this year are almost double what’s sold in the U.S., and the Japanese market accounts for the majority of the car’s global sales.

Other markets besides the U.S. also have so far proved more attractive to Nissan.

In tiny Norway, the automaker has sold 1,000 Nissan Leafs in just six months. The car accounts for about 2% of Norway’s total auto market in some months, powered by a robust government incentive program. It is one of the nation’s better-selling passenger cars.


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