Tesla’s Model S leapfrogs Nissan’s Leaf as top choice for new EVs

Electric vehicle (EV) pioneer Tesla has become the most popular brand for new EV buyers as new figures reveal that annual sales of its Model S rose by more than 50% in 2015, while sales of the Nissan Leaf dropped by 30%.

The figures, released today (26 February) by Germany-based renewables industry analyst ZSW, reveal that there were 42,730 new Tesla Model S registrations in 2015 , overtaking the Mitsubishi Outlander (41,080) and the Nissan Leaf (40,270).

For the Model S and the Outlander, this marks a steady year-on-year increase in new registrations, of 53% and 58% respectively. But for the Leaf, it’s a drop of almost 17,000 new registrations, despite the Japanese firm introducing a series of new battery upgrades last year – including a longer drive range and an innnovative energy storage concept.

The Leaf does, however, remain at the top of the list for best-selling EVs worldwide, with the ZSW analysis revealing that 193,260 Leafs have been sold since 2010. In the UK, Nissan Leaf sales saw their fast rise last year, with 5,236 new registrations.

Cutting costs

With Tesla looking to capitalise on this market growth, the firm’s co-founder JB Straubel yesterday said the carmaker is rapidly adapting its ethos to cater for global commercialisation, with a specific focus on lowering costs. 

Speaking at the IHS Energy CERA Week in Houston, Straubel said: “We don’t really need more performance, we don’t really need much more range, we need to focus on cost. “We’re selling tens of thousands of cars per year but if you add up all the other ones, it’s still less than 1% of all vehicles sold.”

The all-electric Model S is priced from around £50,000 in the UK – significantly more than the Nissan Leaf which currently has an on-the-road price starting at £15,790. Tesla is launching its new Model 3 at the end of March, offering a starting price of around half the price of a Model S, which the company hopes will appeal to the mass market.

No technical details are yet to be released about the Model 3 other than it is scheduled for production in 2017 and looks set to rival the BMW 3 series and the Audi A4.

New world order

The global EV market almost doubled in 2015 as sales reached 1.3 million. New registrations accounted from 550,000 – a 68% jump from last year. And sales look set to skyrocket over the next 25 years, with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicting that the 1.3 million figure could reach more than 40 million.

Research from BNEF yesterday (25 February) revealed that the EV share of the automotive market will be 90 times larger in 2040 – accounting for 35% of all car sales.

Moves are already being made in the industry to account for this transition. The past few weeks has seen the likes of Honda – which has pledged to electrify two-thirds of its portfolio – and General Motors – which has re-branded its R&D division – shaking up their business models to account for EV production.

Driving down emissions

The critical issue of vehicle emissions entered the mainstream last year when Volkswagen’s emissions scandal impacted consumer confidence in diesel vehicles. To combat the fragile trust levels, the UK automotive industry’s trade association, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has taken steps to inform consumers that diesel isn’t dancing with the devil.

Ahead of the Geneva Motor Show next week, SMMT has today released the below consumer-facing video, explaining how modern vehicles, ranging from EVs and hybrids to diesel, have significantly reduced emissions – with diesel cars managing to reduce emissions by three million tonnes and cut nitrogen oxide by 84% since 2002.

Matt Mace

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