Both the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf are winners as far as their cumulative global sales are concerned. They’re exemplary alternate fuel vehicles, but are nonetheless apples and oranges that cannot be fairly compared.
However, they share a common trait, and it has been repeatedly singled out (ad nauseam) as the cause of their recent downfall in the market.
Folks think these two otherwise impressive vehicles suck because they look bad, and they’ve voted with their wallets.
One look at the present sales performance of the Prius and Leaf would confirm this. Toyota’s iconic hybrid is currently on a 12.2 percent YTD sales slump while the Leaf is down by about 24 percent.
Toyota shouldn’t be too worried yet as the gradual erosion of the Prius’ sales isn’t yet accompanied by the threat of being dethroned in the hybrid market. Nissan on the other hand knows that the Leaf is falling quickly behind its rivals.
When the second-gen Chevy Volt showed up for 2015, it immediately pulled the rug from under Nissan’s feet, at least in the US. Since then, the two sales rivals have been miles apart.
And in the sixth anniversary of their rivalry, the Leaf is no longer a close contender to the Volt in the plug-in sales charts. But at least Chevy isn’t endangering its global sales leadership, right?
Well, Tesla is. Last year, the Leaf was outsold by the Tesla Model S, a vehicle more than twice its price. The electric sedan should bag an easy win again this year, and we don’t even need to get into what would happen when the Model 3 floodgates open.
EV fans and car shoppers in general haven’t grown tired of expressing their dislike of the Prius and Leaf based on their looks, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.
Recent developments haven’t made it any easier on these two: sales of the Prius are declining because the hybrid market as a whole is shrinking, while discussions of the Leaf have been sidelined thanks to the emergence of the multi-award winning Chevrolet Bolt.