Renault, Nissan Report Record Sales of Battery-Powered Vehicles

  • Best-selling Leaf model from Nissan declined in 2015
  • Consumers enjoy increasing choice in electric car models

Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co Ltd. said sales of battery-powered vehicles rose to a record 84,754 last year even though there was a slowdown in demand for the best-selling electric vehicle.

Global EV sales for the Renault-Nissan Alliance rose 2.5 percent in 2015. The Nissan Leaf, the first mainstream mass-marketed electric car, suffered a decline, according to a statement on Thursday by the two companies.

Many drivers may be turning away from the Leaf because it has a shorter battery range than some of the newer models coming to market, such as General Motor Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt, said Colin McKerracher, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“A lot of buyers are waiting for the newest round of larger-range vehicles to come out,” he said. “Nissan has announced a larger battery pack version of the Leaf, and we think that will help boost sales, but the market is much more competitive than when the Leaf first launched.”

Renault’s Zoe has a 100-mile range compared to the Leaf’s 75-mile range. The new Leaf launching this year will have a 30 kilowatt-hour battery pack to boost the range by 20 percent on the previous 24 kilowatt-hour model.

Sales of the Leaf and of Nissan’s e-NV200 van declined 9.8 percent last year, a drop that was offset by a 45-percent rise in Renault EV sales, including the Zoe and Kangoo Z.E. van.

Renault’s sales were also boosted by an incentive scheme launched by the French government in April offering a 10,000-euro ($11,000) rebate to drivers trading in diesel-powered cars older than 14 years, a Renault spokeswoman said. A second spokeswoman said Nissan’s sales were down ahead of the launch of the new 2016 Leaf and that Renault benefited from "robust" sales of the Zoe and Kangoo Z.E.

All-time EV sales by the alliance hit 302,000 at the end of 2015, according to the statement. The Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric car, with more than 201,000 vehicles sold since it launched in 2010, it said.

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