Tesla May Be Popular in the U.S., But Nissan's Leaf Is Still the Global EV King

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【Summary】The Tesla Model 3 has only been on the market since 2017, but the electric vehicle has already captured a staggering 67 percent of the market in the U.S. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to take control globally.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 22, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Tesla May Be Popular in the U.S., But Nissan's Leaf Is Still the Global EV King

Teslas are the most popular electric vehicles in the United States. And the American automaker's most affordable and most recent entry, the Model 3, is the preferred electric vehicle. It may have only come out a few years ago, but the Model 3 has already racked up a commanding lead for EV sales in the U.S. Despite the Model 3's success, there's one electric vehicle that Tesla can't seem to catch up to: the Nissan Leaf.

Nissan Still Leads Global Sales
According to Quartz, which cites IHS Markit, Model 3 has accounted for more than 190,000 sales in the U.S. and held 67 percent of the EV market in the country last quarter. That kind of dominance is the first for an electric automaker. It also makes the Model 3 more popular than any other EV on the market, including the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf. It's even more than those two options combined.
Annual sales figures for the three vehicles paint a clear picture. The outlet claims that Tesla manages to sell 64,035 units of the Model 3 annually, while the Leaf and Bolt lag behind with 14,904 units and 12,383 units, respectively.
Yet, Tesla's superiority in the country isn't enough for it to be the top dog globally. The automaker may have overcome logistical issues in China and Europe, but it's still not capable of catching up with the Leaf.
The one major area where Tesla falls behind Nissan, according to Quartz, is in the location of its manufacturing plants. Nissan manufacturers the Leaf in three locations around the world: Japan, England, and U.S. (Tennessee). This allows specific plants to modify the Leaf for specific markets – Leafs sold in Japan are different from the ones we get in the U.S. Being able to modify Leafs for a specific market is useful, but having multiple plants also helps keep prices down. Prices for the Leaf start at $30,885, while the Model 3 costs $40,190.

Pricing Is Still A Problem
Tesla and CEO Elon Musk may have hopes of owning the entire electric vehicle market, but with prices that are far higher than the competition's, that won't be the case. Instead, Quartz claims that Tesla is on track to own the premium side of things. That certainly won't be an issue, as having a premium product when other brands are sticking to the lower end of the market will still see Tesla be a major player. It will, though, mean that Tesla could run into problems down the road when the automaker chooses to have lower-priced options .
Tesla wants to sell 400,000 EVs by the end of the year, but it's still quite a ways away, as the first half of the year saw the automaker sell 158,375 cars. With Nissan being the first electric car to surpass the 400K mark earlier this year, it could be a while until the Model 3 catches up.
"It may not be when the Model 3 surpasses the Leaf but if," says David Undercoffler, the editor-in-chief of Autolist. "The Model 3 will have its work cut out for it if it hopes to someday catch the Leaf." With the Model Y set to come out in the future, the new EV will definitely steal some sales away from the Model 3.

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