Jul 14, 2022 - Economy

Nissan Leaf EV said to be discontinued

A white car sits on the floor of an automotive show

The 2022 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Nissan Leaf's days are numbered.

Driving the news: Nissan is discontinuing the small electric car "by mid-decade," trade journal Automotive News reported Thursday.

  • Nissan representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Why it matters: Electric vehicles are widely seen as the future of the auto industry (hello Tesla), but early models like the Leaf failed to catch on.

  • "Leaf was an attempt at bringing electrification to the masses, but with quirky styling and range limits ... it never really had a chance at becoming what it set out to be," Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury tells Axios in an email.

Flashback: After its debut in 2011, the Leaf quickly became the best-selling EV in the world.

  • But it soon ceded the throne to Tesla, and never came close to achieving the vision laid out by former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn: selling 500,000 a year by 2013.
  • Nissan sold only 14,239 units of the Leaf in the U.S. in 2021, a sliver of the 977,639 vehicles it sold that year.

Zoom out: The Leaf's struggles were tied to its low battery range and its compact frame, with the first version (a 2011 model) traveling only about 73 miles on a single charge.

  • The range improved over time, but Nissan has since shifted much of its attention to future EVs, like the sleek Ariya crossover.
  • When gas prices tumbled in the late 2010s, the Leaf also fell prey to shifting consumer demand for SUVs and pickups.

The bottom line: The Leaf is now blowing in the wind, but EVs are far from dead.

  • "There's going to be a lot of new product that comes to market that will be far better with better battery technology," Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs tells Axios.

(Editor's note: Autotrader is owned by Cox Enterprises, an investor in Axios.)

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