Although it originally launched in 2011 at close to $46,990 plus on-road costs, Leaf pricing has fallen significantly to $39,990 driveaway in recent times, which Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery admits is “not economical for us long-term.”
“Basically, my understanding is that it’s turning a loss, it’s just the economies of scale,” he explained at the local launch of the Nissan Qashqai small SUV in Brisbane.
“I don’t think people aren’t buying it because of price, I think they’re not buying it because they’re not ready for the technology. Conversely, I don’t think you can charge lots and lots more than that size or style of car just because it’s electric. The people who want that car don’t want to be asking why I am bearing the brunt of the economies of scale.”
Yet Emery remains committed to the loss-making electric car locally.
“We need to hang in there on Leaf, because our view is that if the market does turn and market acceptance and the infrastructure acceptance turns, then we want to be people’s first in brain," he adds.
“[To say] ‘oh Nissan have had an electric car, they’re my first choice’ you have to hang in there’.
“Australia’s view of electric cars is quite unique because of range anxiety, because of the way we use our cars, because of the infrastructure, because you’ve got to charge your car out of coal-fired power.
“So all of those things have put a bit of a challenge behind electric cars, but I think of all the brands that should hang in there, it’s us, and I have no issue or consideration of walking away from Leaf, we’ve got to hang tough because when things turn, I want to be first in queue.”
Emery says Nissan is using e-NV200 electric vans on a trial basis with some Australian companies (as spied in Melbourne in March) but adds, “I wouldn’t be rushing to launch another electric car”.
He cited the extremely cost-sensitive nature of the commercial van segment as yet another hurdle for a battery-powered van.
If Nissan were to create an electric-only version of the IDx concept, however – the brand has currently stated it will build either an IDx electric or IDx performance model – then Emery says that could provide a point of difference from the Leaf, and would be considered.