2012 Nissan Leaf: More Features, Higher PriceBy Scott Doggett July 19, 2011
Nissan has upped the price of its 2012 Leaf by between $2,420 and $3,530, depending on the trim level. The new price includes as standard equipment quick-charging and cold weather features. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2012 Nissan Leaf will be $35,200 for the SV trim level, up 8 percent or $2,420 from $32,780 on the 2011 model and $37,250 for the SL trim level, up 10 percent or $3,530 from the 2011 model. The Leaf is eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. Its monthly lease price will begin at $369, or $20 more than the current lease price. The Leaf remains under the starting price of its prime competitor, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, which has a base price of $39,995.
Nissan also announced at the 2011 Plug-In Conference in Raleigh, N.C. that it will expand the U.S. availability of its electric Leaf to 16 states. On July 25, Nissan will open the ordering process to consumers with existing reservations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia. After the prioritized ordering phase for existing reservations in those markets, Nissan will open new reservations and orders on Aug. 4 to the general public, both in these new markets, as well as states where the Leaf already has been on sale (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington). Expected delivery of the first 2012 Leafs will begin in the fall.
Nissan will expand into additional new markets as the year continues. In the fall, orders from existing reservations and new reservations will begin in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. By the end of the year, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will be added as markets where the Leaf will be available for order.
The exterior of the 2012 model will remain identical to the current model, Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary told AutoObserver. The suggested retail prices for the 2012 model do not include the up to $7,500 tax credit the federal government provides for eligible buyers of battery-electric vehicles, nor do they include state and local incentives that exist in some areas. The federal government also offers a tax credit to BEV buyers for installing a home charger if they have the tax liability to seek the credits.
The 2012 upgrades are based on feedback from Leaf owners, whose ranks now total about 4,400 and have driven several millions of miles in the first 100-percent electric car for the U.S. mass market, Zachery said. They include direct current fast charge capability standard on the Leaf SL, and cold-weather features (specifically, battery warmer, heated steering wheel, and heated seats in both the front and rear) on all Leafs sold in U.S. markets -- even places like Southern California and Miami that don't have particularly cold winters. Zachary said that 90 percent of buyers of the 2011 Leaf have added the optional DC fast charge port, which allows the vehicle to be charged at 480 volts and reduces the time required to charge a fully depleted Leaf battery to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Typically, Level 2 (220 volt) and Level 1 (110 volt) chargers require hours to charge the BEV. As DC fast charge stations proliferate across the country, Nissan expects this feature to become even more popular.
Nissan officials said they continue to learn from their customer as the automaker begins the next phase of the model's launch. In a speech at Plug-In 2011 Tuesday, Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America, said 82 percent of Leaf owners have never previously owned a Nissan, and 75 percent considered no other vehicle than the Leaf in their purchase decision. These early adopters report that they are using the Leaf as their primary car and driving it far more than was originally anticipated. Carolin said that most Leaf owners are well educated, have credit scores above 750 and earn more than $140,000 a year, are technologically savvy, environmentally conscious and consider themselves advocates for electric-car technology.
Mark Perry, Nissan North America's director of advanced planning and strategy, said the company's research has also shown that the average Leaf buyer pays just under $2,200 in total for a home charger and its installation. In an address at the Plug-In 2011 Conference, he also said that the typical Leaf owners travels 60 miles a day, and his or her battery is half full when it is plugged in at the end of the day. Perry also said that Nissan is "getting very close" to delivering its 10,000th Leaf to retail customers globally. Deliveries to individual customers began in the United States and Japan in December 2010, in Ireland in February, in the U.K. in March and in the Netherlands last month.