Nissan Leaf Pre-Orders Pass 8,000, and Counting

The number of customers who have pre-ordered the all-electric Nissan Leaf is up to 8,000. That’s 10 days after Nissan started taking take $99 refundable deposits. “I’m feeling pretty good about it,” Mark Perry, director of product planning at Nissan, told

The response represents almost 8 percent of the 102,000 people who had previously signed up as interested buyers. “That’s a phenomenal conversion rate out of the gates,” Kathryn Zachary, public relations manager, told us. “Eight percent conversion from signing up for more information to actually putting down a cash deposit. And that’s only in the first week.” We caught up with Perry and Zachary on Thursday at the Green:Net 2010 conference in San Francisco.

Nissan is expecting that number of pre-orders to grow during the early registration period that lasts through May 15—after which the general public will be allowed to submit deposits.

Customers submitting pre-orders and deposits in the first few days ran into a number of problems the Nissan website, which the company has mostly resolved.

By December, Nissan hopes to have 25,000 pre-orders, which is half the number of Nissan Leafs that will be produced globally during the first year. The exact geographic allocation for the Leaf will be “based on customer demand,” Perry said. So far, there have been about 4,000 pre-orders in Japan; ordering in the UK begins in July.

Consumer Test-Drives by Fall

The pre-orders so far are “just part of a whole launch plan,” Perry said. Nissan is planning a test-drive tour this fall, and hopes to grant drives to 40,000 to 50,000 people, who be able to kick the tires and get behind the wheel. This will occur months before the vehicle arrives in dealership showrooms, when consumers will be able to purchase the vehicle in a more traditional way. All told, Nissan could run into a problem of not having enough Leafs to go around. “We would love an issue where demand exceeds supply. That’s a good news problem to have,” Perry said.

The list of 25,000 pre-orders could get whittled down, because Nissan will make every effort to inform customers about the range limits of the car—about 100 miles—and based on the cost associated with installing home charging equipment. Nissan will begin taking firm orders in August, which will trigger a sequence of events. “We’re going to send an electrician to your house to give you an estimate to get your house plug-in-ready,” Perry said. The cost of the visit from the electrician is borne by Nissan, regardless of whether or not the sale is completed.

Vehicles will begin rolling out to select markets in December 2010, with Leafs available in additional markets in 2011—and across the country thereafter. The Leaf is priced at $32,780 and will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. In California, where additional credits are available, the Leaf price could be reduced to $20,280. The Leaf will also be available for a 36-month lease, running $349 per month with an initial payment of $1,999.

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  • caffeinekid

    8000 units is a worldwide total…am I correct? And since when is a $30K vehicle “affordable” even with the ‘cool’ factor of having it come standard with WiFi?

    Someone needs to let Nissan know that America’s Gen-Y is largely broke.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Affordable – yes. Easily affordable by absolutely everyone – maybe not.
    One has to start somewhere.
    Maybe this will be an opportunity for the Baby Boomers who aren’t broke, to spend a little $ to do something that will actually help their Gen-X and Gen-Y kids for a change.
    Today, the Baby Boomers are spending their excess $$$ on cheap (or over-priced luxury) gas guzzlers. It doesn’t matter to them that the cheap gas upon which their easy lifestyle depends will soon run out, since they’ll all be dead before the cost of gas takes off. They’ll never have to personally face the fact that the age of cheap gasoline that they’ve enjoyed their entire life, will only last for a single-generation – theirs.
    Here they can contribute to developing a sustainable technology that might just enable Gen-X, Gen-Y, and subsequent generations to also share that pampered Muscle Car to SUV lifestyle of the Baby Boom generation.
    Hang in there Gen-Y, this one’s for you actually.

  • Wes

    You have to remember if your monthly payment on a ford focus(comparable size) is 3-350 then you spend 2-300 a month on gas commuting, well then 350-4 a month isn’t that bad.

  • Ed

    I put my 99 bucks down and hope to get one of the first ones. One other point about an electric car is the maintenance is far less than a standard ICE car.

  • Grant

    That 8,000 is the number of pre-orders in the US so far. There are another 4,000 in Japan so far. This is a lot considering that they are only going to have capacity to make 50,000 worldwide (all from Japan) in the first year (Nissan’s factories in the US and UK are being prepared to start making Leafs in 2012 or so).

    For a first generation electric car with the features that the Leaf has, the price is fantastic (well under $30k if you include the tax credit). Obviously, there are going to be many more electric cars in the coming years, and like all new technologies, the price will go down and the features/performance will go up in time.

  • oldevguy

    What does it take to be eligible for the full $7500 tax credit?

  • Jerry Ludwig

    The $7500 tax credit is for EV vehicles with battery capacity of 16 kilowatt-hours or more.

    As such, the Tesla Sedan, the Aptera, the LEAF, and the Volt all qualify, I think. As will the Focus EV when it comes out and the BMW electric. Of course, the credit is way more percentage for the price of a LEAF.

  • Rong544

    Ah, yes that evil baby boom generation. Thankfully, for you, they are going to pay for about 23% of the cost of your new electric car via taxes they pay. As you said, they have all the money and the young folks don’t. Hence, the young don’t have to pay for the $7,500 gift from us older folks.

  • caffeinekid

    I disagree that $30K is affordable. Sure, everything is relative, but ask many of the perceivably “somewhat well off” friends of yours how much they have in savings and retirement and things will fall a little more into perspective. And heaven forbid that they find themselves unemployed, or even worse, over 35 and unemployed. It should be more apparent now than ever that people are largely dead men walking (financially speaking).

    Don’t get me wrong, I L-O-V-E technology and particularly solar and battery innovation….BUT…I only paid $10.5K for my used 2005 Prius with 64K on the odometer. Once I add the Enginer 4KwH pack for another $4K totaling just under $15K by the time everything is said and done, I will have a vehicle that averages well about the 50MPG that it does now, requires little maintenance and cost me beans compared to something I have to plug in so frequently and has limited range, which despite what the social engineers would have you believe, IS a big deal.

    I agree that the emotional aspect of this vehicle is superb…kinda like pretty much anything that Apple puts out there. And I was on the list, but have since decided against this car. I’ll get back with you in another 5 years when I see how things are panning out. I am just tired (wise) of throwing away my money as a first adopter.

  • Srini

    I disagree with those who say this car is not affordable…with the $7500 tax credit its well within the range of most mid sized cars. Look at the cars on the road today in California and most of them are expensive gas guzzlers or luxury cars. I would be the average price of most of these cars is around $25K which is what the Leaf would cost.

    Its the first time I feel that an electric car which gives about 90 miles to a charge is ready for the roads at a decent price. I can’t wait to dump my Mercedes and go with the leaf. I had no problems registering and paying the deposit.

  • Beck

    The FTC says the average new car price in the US is about $28,500. That makes the Leaf below average priced (with rebates). Whether that is affordable to you, no one but you can say.

    I think the Leaf will sell out- because they have no competition in that price range for an all electric vehicle. Most people do not drive more than 100 miles one way- so the range will not be a problem.

    American automakers need to pay attention. Hybrids were the 20th Century- EV is the 21st C. Hope to see more EV soon!

  • lordjim49

    I live in the California Sierra foothills completely off the electric utility grid. My entire house is powered by solar with a LPG generator as backup. The leaf will be a good fit since I can charge it from my solar system (it provides more than adequate power to recharge the Leaf’s batteries) and drive it to most places I routinely visit, they being within a 100 mile round trip distance. For other, longer trips I can use my current gasoline fueled vehicle. Once there are available commercial charging stations at routinely visited locations (e.g. COSTO and Wal-mart) then obviously the driving range will increase.

  • Anonymous

    bla bla bla, some of us will
    miss meals to buy a vehicle that will stick it to the Bin ladens,Bushes and chaneys

  • Dave K.

    The Leaf is not only affordable, it’s almost free! Let’s tell the truth here, no one really buys a car to save money, but if you did this would be the one. @ $4/gallon, this car will save me about $2,000/year on fuel and maintenance, and I live in a state with a $5K state tax credit as well as the federal. If I keep it 10 years it will cost me $280+interest on the investment, not bad! P.S. I’m one of those evil Boomers, but I never forgot the 70s oil shocks, I’ve always owed small 4cyl. cars and bought an 04 Prius new, we don’t all take this for granted.

  • caffeinekid

    Well, I have a different way of looking at advertising lingo such as “affordable”. I consider the average household income, the average household non-mortgage debt and the degree to which cheap credit has inflated prices within the market. And according to my figures, an “affordable” new vehicle is somewhere in the mid teens, not anywhere near $30K. It is almost as if we have been thrown back to the 80’s sans the current insolvency of government and low levels of household savings.

    Sure, according to some polls many of us first-adopters (though I personally no longer make this claim) can “afford” a $30K gadget, but there are so many factors that could easily distort these numbers (marriage status, savings/retirement, age, dependents, region, etc.) that they are essentially useless to the discussion. (Notice that the Leaf is a 4-door). It doesn’t matter what the FTC claims the median vehicle price is if the values have been inflated by a friendly credit market because this has since changed. It is TODAY’s market that the Leaf has to contend with, and in today’s market I cannot imagine that the 50-somethings are the target. And if they aren’t, Nissan needs to take into account the NEGATIVE wealth of a huge swath of the market. And anyone who lets their pocketbook hold precedence over their emotions knows that you can get a similar ICE vehicle for a fraction of the cost of a Leaf and STILL have money left over after considering the cost of fuel. This hasn’t changed since the early 1900s.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    I guess you’re saying that nobody is willing to let go of their nice, comfortable, convenient, cheap oil in order to go to something sustainable.
    I certainly hope you’re wrong. Fortunately, the popularity of hybrid vehicles kind of proves that your assumption may not actually hold.
    I’ll also remind you that very few vehicles on the market sell for the the mid-teens. Therefore, your view of “affordable” must differ greatly from that of the people actually buying new vehicles today.
    It will certainly be easier if manufacturers trying to penetrate the new market focus their efforts on something other than the bottom of the market. It will be a lot easier to recover start-up costs that way. Most new features (air bags, seat belts, OnStar, ABS, Power Brakes, Power Steering, automatic transmissions, Steel belted radial tires, disc brakes, etc) have started on higher end cars, then migrated to the cheapest ones later.

  • caffeinekid

    ex-EV1 driver,
    I don’t know that it is simply about an unwillingness to “let go” of their nice, comfortable, convenient oil that keeps people out of these vehicles or any alternative energies for that matter. Quite frankly, most people don’t have the money. And there are too many manufacturers out there to support ANY business model that does not involve selling large numbers of vehicles to median income families. It is bad enough that most all of these technologies even now only survive as a result of inflation.

    Outfits like Tesla can do fine with selling to an exclusive class of wealthy enthusiasts, and maybe even Nissan with their $30K compact, but when you get to Toyota and GM, this isn’t going to work and time is ticking financially speaking. Don’t underestimate the level of indebtedness out there. Couple this with how significant a portion of our current and preceding economies are/were the direct result of currency inflation and it becomes clear that it will take a very long time to bring things back into the kilter that is essential for the success of renewables. The paradigm of economies of scale has changed.

  • caffeinekid

    Correct me if I am wrong, but lets do the math:

    I know the Focus pretty well since I bought a couple for my company and have the Cost of Operation records for them. They averaged 30mpg and required no exclusively ICE maintenance outside of the timing belt kit and oil changes.

    $200/month in fuel at $3.00/gallon is ~66.7 gallons a month. At 30MPG, that adds up to ~ 24K miles per year, which is allegedly about twice the national average, 2000 miles per month, 462 miles per week or 66 miles per day. Over an example 100K (4 years) life of the Focus, you will do 20 oil changes and a timing belt maintenance totalling another ~ $1200.00. Add the cost of fuel and maintenance that the EV would not require and you come out to ~ $10800.00. If the car cost $14-15K (Focus ZX5), you would be in for about $24 to $26K.

    Now, once the inflated currency subsidization is added in on the Leaf, bringing the price down to approximately the same price…and the same subsidization is taken into account on the charging station, the final price of the EV is somewhere around $1.5K more.

    The Leaf really only pays for itself with subsidization and after at least 100K miles on an ICE, provided the battery module is not a problem.

  • EV crazy

    I paid my $99 deposit hoping to be one of the lucky ones to get it. To me whats important is that I will be driving pollution free. Comparing this car to one with a gas engine is like comparing apple to bananas. Once I get my 1st EV I will never again buy a car with engine.

  • JimmyT

    Say, you wouldn’t happen to have been raised in a state-directed compulsory competetive institutionalized indoctrination center (ie. public school,) would you?

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    The list of 25,000 pre-orders could get whittled down, because Nissan will make every effort to inform customers about the range limits of the car—about 100 miles—and based on the cost associated with installing home charging equipment. Nissan will begin taking firm orders in August, which will trigger a sequence of events. “We’re going to send an electrician to your house to give you an estimate to get your house plug-in-ready,” Perry said. The cost of the visit from the electrician is borne by Nissan, regardless of whether or not the sale is completed.. HTC One X

  • OBD2

    8,000 pre-orders for this car is no joke. Nissan must be doing something right! I can’t wait until the Honda FCX get’s rolling.