Nissan to Restart Reservations, Speed Up Sales

By Danny King April 21, 2011

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Nissan Americas will re-start reservations for the Nissan Leaf and will speed up sales of the battery-electric vehicle starting next month after getting a shipment of the first Leafs produced since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

The Japanese automaker will restart Leaf reservations in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, and will give first dibs to the 340,000 people who've registered for Leaf ownership online, Nissan said Wednesday. A shipment of the first post-earthquake-produced Leafs will arrive in the U.S. on April 27.

Nissan's sales of the $32,780 BEV have been limited by supply and delivery constraints that were further hampered by the earthquake. Nissan, which started selling the Leaf in the U.S. late last year, boosted March deliveries of the car to 298 units in March from 154 in January and February combined.

"We have now full visibility to deliver the cars for the first 20,000 reservationists that we have for the Nissan Leaf," said Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares in an interview with Auto Observer, adding that delivery numbers will soon be in the thousands. "I think we are back on track."

The company will start selling the Leaf to residents of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia this fall, and the car will be available nationwide next year. Tavares added that the Nissan will make 85 percent of its U.S. vehicles at its Tennessee facilities in 2015, up from 69 percent now, to take advantage of the strengthening Japanese yen. In addition to the Leaf, Nissan will make the next-generation Rogue and the upcoming Infiniti JX crossover in Tennessee, Tavares said.

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