Nissan prepares for more LEAF sales, US manufacturing
This week Nissan said it would start producing the all-electric LEAF’s traction motor in the U.S. beginning early 2013, even as the company prepares to roll out improved 2012 LEAFs to a broader market later this year.
A few days ago we reported Nissan will add cold weather accommodations to 2012s based on consumer feedback.
The company now says it will make DC fast charging capability standard on all 2012 LEAF SL models, and this decision is also based on initial owner ordering preferences and feedback.
On July 25 Nissan will begin taking orders from consumers with existing reservations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
After these prioritized orders are taken, on Aug. 4, Nissan will open new reservations and orders to the general public – both in these new markets, as well as places where the LEAF has already been on sale (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington).
Expected delivery of the first 2012 Nissan LEAFs will begin in the fall.
As for those 2013 domestically made traction motors mentioned, these will be made in the company’s Decherd, Tenn. assembly plant, Nissan said yesterday.
The move is expected to create 90 new jobs with assembly line capacity of 150,000 motors annually.
This will be the fifth expansion for the company’s Decherd operation which began production in 1997.
Nissan also said it would produce the LEAF and the batteries that power it at its Smyrna manufacturing complex. The advanced, lithium-ion battery plant is on track to be operational late next year at approximately the same time LEAF production is targeted to begin in Smyrna.
Contrary to the belief of some – including General Motors executives involved with the LEAF’s sort-of rival, the Chevy Volt – Nissan reports its initial owners use the LEAF as a primary car.
Various GM and other observers have said the limited-range LEAF is better suited as a secondary car because it is likely to induce “range anxiety.”
Thus far more than 4,000 LEAFs have been delivered in the U.S. and aside from using collected owner data to tweak the car, Nissan has also learned a few things about its first buyers.
Just to mix metaphors in a royal fashion, we can tell you that in a nutshell, the LEAF has thus far picked the low hanging fruit.
That is, the car has by far been purchased by that unique brand of customers called “early adopters.”
These people are described as mostly ”highly educated and have high income levels, are technologically savvy, environmentally conscious, and consider themselves advocates for electric-car technology,” Nissan said.
Of these first LEAF buyers, 82 percent had never owned a Nissan and fully 75 percent never considered buying anything but the LEAF – which indeed, has been in a class by itself and will be for a little longer before competitors arrive later this year.
Nissan said also its first buyers are driving the LEAF more than originally intended. Yes, a bunch of them have had to take advantage of free towing and initial software glitches that did not accurately display remaining driving range, but they are still all about their LEAFs, Nissan said.
It would appear the early adopters have so far shown they are smart enough not to run the thing out of juice too often, and are thus resistant to any virulent strains, or severe diagnoses of “range anxiety.” So much for dire predictions from competitors and naysayers.
Next we will see how the “general public” does with the electric car in what is still a petrol-dominated world, and whether second- and third-wave buyers can adopt as successfully as the early adopters. We have no reason to think other than they just might.
Nissan’s suggested retail price for the 2012 LEAF is $35,200 for the SV trim level, and $37,250 for the SL trim level. The monthly lease price will begin at “a highly competitive” $369, Nissan said.