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Despite selling 50k Leafs worldwide, Nissan CEO scales back sales expecations

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn adds a footnote to his previous EV sales estimate

Nissan recently hit the 50,000 global sales mark for the Leaf electric car, and with the obstacles the car has faced, that’s quite a big number. Nissan-Renault boss, Carlos Ghosn, is even saying that sales of pure electric cars could become 10 percent of the markets where the Leaf is sold by 2020. Since the Leaf is the most popular pure electric car in the world, you would expect Ghosn to know what he’s talking about. But this hasn’t always been his position. Back in 2009, Ghosn said that this 10 percent would be a global figure, and that this would mean upward of six million pure electrics on the road by 2019. That figure now seems unlikely, and his amendment, as told to the French news outlet La Tribune, will make for a total number much lower than his original estimate.

To be fair, Ghosn’s overestimation of the EV market wasn’t anything unusual. His estimate was actually quite conservative compared to some, and even the US Department of Energy is re-evaluating its time frame for increased EV adoption. But Ghosn has always been one of the most vocal proponents of electric cars, and has seemed reluctant to go back on his previous estimates, no matter how optimistic they seemed. The electric car is surely far from dead, but there was clearly an industry-wide miscalculation of how quickly it would take off. It’s obviously good to have a CEO who believes in his product, but Ghosn’s optimism clearly allowed him to misjudge the market in a big way. Nevertheless the Leaf continues to rack up sales, albeit slower than expected.