Nissan, which reported record U.S. sales of Leaf electric hatchbacks in 2013, is optimistic that the world’s most prolific electric-car maker can soon double deliveries, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said.
Nissan and other automakers delivered a record number of hybrid and rechargeable cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year as the industry remains under pressure to boost fuel efficiency. Sales of vehicles powered partially or entirely by electricity totaled at least 578,000 units, up more than 100,000 from 2012 and accounting for about 3.7 % of all new autos sold in the nation.
Sales of the battery-powered Leaf jumped 130 % last year to 22,610 vehicles, aided by 2,529 deliveries in December, the most ever in a single month for the Yokohama, Japan-based company. That figure should keep rising, Ghosn said in a CNBC interview.
“We are now on a trend of 3,000 cars a month in the US, which is about 36,000 cars” a year, Ghosn said. “The next step is moving up to 4,000 a month,” he said, without setting a target date.
Sales of the Leaf, which arrived in late 2010, were aided by a price reduction in early 2013 and the start of production of the car and its lithium-ion batteries at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee, plant. While California is the car’s biggest market, demand in Georgia and other parts of the South have lifted sales in the past four months, Fred Diaz, Nissan’s US senior vice president, said in an interview last week.
Nissan rose 0.5 % to 940 yen at 9:53 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The shares have gained 11 % in the past 12 months. Nissan’s North American unit is based in Franklin, Tennessee.