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Nissan’s new problem: Not enough Leafs

Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle sales and marketing, recently flew to Dallas to meet with dealers there.

“They really want more Leafs in Dallas,” Gottfried says. “I assured them that we’re doing everything we can to get them more inventory. But it’s taking some time.”

The situation for Nissan’s high-profile electric Leaf is suddenly different than it was a year ago. Then, low sales brought speculation that Nissan had blundered on a car and a technology no one seemed to want.

It is now selling at more than 2,000 a month — quadruple its year-ago volumes — and Nissan continues slowly ramping up its assembly process in Smyrna, Tenn.

“We’re going to be short on inventory all through the summer,” Gottfried says he has been telling dealers. “It will be late fall before we can produce enough to satisfy everybody.”

One new challenge for Gottfried and Nissan’s dealers is that the geography of the Leaf’s market has broadened. For the past two years, Leafs imported from Japan were selling mostly to consumers in more environmentally minded cities on the West Coast, including San Francisco and Seattle.

Now, Gottfried reports, dealers are asking for more inventory in diverse locations, including Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago and Raleigh, N.C.



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