Nissan's Leaf Tops Worldwide Sales of Still-nascent Electric Car Market

Nissan Leaf Dashboard

By Sam Eilfing

February 20, 2014

The worldwide leader in electric vehicles in 2013 was the Nissan Leaf, which accounted for nearly a quarter of the EVs sold worldwide last year and almost twice as many as the second-place Chevy Volt.

The EV market overall is a relatively minor portion of sales, with a little more than 200,000 sold worldwide in 2013 - fewer than General Motors alone sold in December of last year. But at least one observer believes falling prices and improving battery technology could drive a 67 percent uptick in EV sales in 2014.

The Volt and the Leaf, the IHS Automotive analyst found, will both be increasing their production this year. That pits the top two EV makers in the world against established brands that will be entering the market to a fanfare befitting their names: Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

And that says nothing of the Toyota Prius PHEV, the Tesla Model S and the Mitsubishi Outlander, which in the 2013 count ranked tightly behind the Volt, all with around 10 percent of the world market.

Canada's best-selling EV is the Tesla, narrowly ahead of the Leaf. Auto Evolution noted that Canadians shell out nearly $80,000 for the 60 kWh Model S and close to $90,000 for the 85 kWh - with Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia offering tax breaks of about $5,000 to $8,500 to those buyers.

The Leaf, which sold 47,484 units in 2013, succeeded both in topping the overall chart and doing so as a pure electric vehicle. Petroleum-electric hybrids accounted for six of the top nine vehicles; the Model S and Renault's Zoe were the other pure EVs in the top tranche.

The top vehicle by far in December 2013 was Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV, which in the words of EVObsession "stormed onto the scene" in its native Japan in the latter part of the year to sell nearly 7,000 cars - a rate that would have overtaken the Leaf's handsome total inside of seven months.