Nissan on Tuesday announced that it had surpassed one million global EV sales—a milestone that took 12 years to achieve.

The automaker was a pioneer of modern electric cars, launching the first-generation Leaf in December 2010. As the longest-running Nissan EV and the longest-running EV in the North American market, the Leaf accounts for 650,000 of the million EV sales Nissan has accumulated. While it has sold the e-NV200 electric van, the automaker only recently began introducing other electric passenger cars in the form of the Ariya crossover SUV and the Japanese-market Sakura.

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

Of those million sales, just 210,000 have gone to North America. The most (320,000) went to Europe. China and Japan account for 230,000 EV sales each, while the remaining 10,000 went to other regions.

While Nissan deserves credit for being among the first automakers to launch a modern EV, its progress in growing sales has been slow. Tesla reported about 889,000 deliveries in the first half of 2023 alone. At this rate, it is likely already past a million deliveries for the year today, in late July. Tesla passed a million annual EV sales in 2022, and even outsold Toyota in the important California market in this past quarter.

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce

Nissan, in contrast, has been slow to add electric models—the Ariya and Sakura only arrived in 2022—and sales of the Leaf have been sluggish. It took Nissan until 2019 to pass 400,000 cumulative global Leaf sales. It surpassed 500,000 global Leaf sales in 2020—10 years after production started.

Nissan does appear to be getting more ambitious with its EV plans. It now targets 19 new electric models by 2030, and aims to launch EVs powered by solid-state batteries by 2028. The automaker expects EVs to make up 40% of its U.S. sales by 2030, and plans to build two EVs in Mississippi starting in 2025—one Nissan-branded vehicle and the first U.S.-market EV for the Infiniti luxury brand.



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