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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 HybridCars.com.
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.