When Nissan first started hinting that the new Leaf would have significantly less range than the Bolt or the Tesla Model 3, it prompted me to ask a question:
Do we need shorter range electric cars? Not only would medium-range cars be more affordable, but they also require fewer resources to manufacture while still meeting something like 90-95% of most drivers' daily needs.
What I didn't really get into, however, is that the answer to that question will depend very much on where you live. In the United States, for example, where towns and cities are generally speaking further apart, where transit options are more limited, and where there's a stronger cultural affinity to the motor car and the road trip—the idea of a shorter range electric car might have limited appeal. (Indeed, some of the commenters let me know that in no uncertain terms.)In my native Europe, however, (yes, I am a firm and unapologetic Remainian) people tend to drive shorter distances, live in denser urban communities, and also have more viable transit options for intercity travel.
This difference may be having an impact on two separate stories in the news recently. On the one hand, over at Cleantechnica, we hear that Leaf 2.0 is selling like hot cakes in Europe—shifting 6,053 units in March alone, setting a European record for sales of an all-electric car. (The plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander did once sell 6,485 units thanks to an incentive change-related spike in sales.)
Meanwhile, Electrek reports that Leaf sales ticked up only slightly in the United States following the launch of version 2.0. Specifically, the company sold 1,171 units in April, up only 10% on the year before.
Of course, early sales are a little dangerous to read too much into. After all, dealer familiarity and model availability, not to mention consumer awareness, may all mean that there's simply a lag between launch and lift off. But it wouldn't shock me if medium-range electric cars like the Leaf 2.0 do better in markets like Europe and Japan where cars are thought of less as an all encompassing mobility tool, and more as one option among many.
What do we think—sign of things to come, or simply statistical noise leading to ill-informed extrapolation? Share your gut feelings here.