Reservations for Nissan Leaf Begins, With a Few Glitches

Nissan began yesterday to take reservations for the Nissan Leaf—the first mass-market all-electric car to hit the market since GM’s EV1 was canceled in 2003. A list of approximately 100,000 pre-registered interested buyers received an email, notifying them that the reservation website was ready to take orders. The reservations, which require a refundable $99 fee, puts prospective buyers first in line to buy or lease the Nissan Leaf, when firm orders begin in August.

Rollout begins in select markets in December 2010, with vehicles available in all major launch markets thereafter. That could mean mid-2011, depending on where you live. The Leaf is priced at $32,780 and will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Leaf will also be available for a 36-month lease, running $349 per month with an initial payment of $1,999.

Small Bumps in the Road

The first day of reservations was not without a number of logistical problems. Our sources tell us that many people on the list didn’t get the notification email or received the email later than expected. In addition, the system had problems processing American Express cards for the deposit.

The online registration process started with a survey, asking a number of questions about personal driving patterns and parking location—in order to determine if a customer is well-suited to an electric car with approximately 100 miles of range. In addition, registrants were asked to choose either the base SV trim level—or the higher SL package that includes a rear-view monitor, solar spoiler panel, fog lights and automatic on-off headlamps. Five color choices—blue, black, white, silver and red—were also offered.

At HybridCars.com, we were unsuccessful in placing our reservation. After completing a survey and entering our credit card information, the link to the final confirmation screen was incorrectly redirected to a video about the ordering process. We placed a phone call to the toll-free dedicated Leaf support line for assistance. After waiting 45 minutes to speak with a representative, he informed us that many customers were experiencing this glitch. The agent took our number and said that we would get a call back within 48 hours—or “possibly within 7 to 10 days”—to confirm that the registration system was fixed and ready.

The registration logjam on the website was not unexpected—considering the amount of anticipation from green car fans about the arrival of fully capable electric car from a major global automaker. The early adopters are considered the most patient and amenable of potential customers. Customer demand for the Nissan Leaf is expected to far exceed availability during the first year or two. Global production in the first year is set at 50,000 units.

Rush to Judgment

A mad rush of early buyers does not confirm the long-term viability of the Nissan Leaf and other electric cars—at least, according to a number of critics. In February, Forbes Magazine’s Jerry Flint called the Leaf “the most daring gamble in the automobile world.” He said that some people always will be attracted to the novelty of the car, but “the Leaf is more likely to be a sales failure than a sales success.” And John McElroy, producer of “Autoline” for WTVS-Channel 56, Detroit, also called the Leaf a bold gamble. “Unless EVs really catch on with consumers,” he writes in Ward’s Auto, it “may go down as the most expensive public-relations boondoggle this industry has ever seen.”

Just 24 hours after Leaf reservations began, it’s way too early to tell the story—one way or the other. But one thing is clear: consumer demand for a vehicle that breaks our dependence on petroleum, gas pumps, and carbon emissions is on the rise.


  • 38mpg

    I have read Mr. Jerry Flint’s article in Forbes and he is making a huge (mostly wrong) assumption that there will not be any more technological progress. Sure the 100 mile range is too small for most of us. But what if Nissan is able to raise the range by 20-30% every year? By the third year, we have a very practical car.

  • Eric

    reserved this morning :)

  • Paul Beerkens

    Why is 100 mile range too small for most of us. Do most people not live in cities? What do you need that does not exist in a 10 mile radius? There might be an annual trip out of the city not involving an airplane that could extend past 100 miles but you could rent an old fashioned hybrid car for that.

  • JR

    This is the largest rollout of electric vehicles in history, the consumer response is enormous, state and local governments are extrordinarily embracing of the vehicles, the economics are sustainable, and strong support industries are emerging with positive profit models. This has all the makings of a paradigm shift in transportation. Nissan will have a strong ownership of the industry for quite some time as the other OEMs play catch up.
    Major kudos for Nissan!

  • LJB

    I tried to reserve yesterday, when I got the email, and had the same result as described in the article. I can go to the Leaf site and log in, where I find a “reserve now” button. I do that, and it takes me to a page that shows a nearly completed progress bar, stating I need to complete my payment in order to finish registration. When I click on the button to do so, it takes me back to the video page that the original credit card transaction page took me to (again, as described in the article).

    I did an online chat with Nissan last night about this. The person on the other end told me there were issues with the process, and that I wouldn’t lose my place in line (apparently I have a place in line?). She said to check back today–I did, no change in status, it still wants me to finish my payment.

    Sigh. Hopefully the car is better architected than this simple web reservation system.

  • Quixotic

    After a little trouble myself, I was able to reserve a Leaf yesterday.

    I suspect that many of the buyers will be families (or couples) that have two cars anyway. In this case, the range is really not an issue at all since the other car can be used when doing a longer drive.

    Since I fit in this category, of having another car available for longer trips, the convenience of “refueling” at home far outweighs any concern about range.

    So, the funny story about my troubles reserving a Leaf yesterday:
    The initial web page that asked for my name and zip didn’t recognize me. I talked to Nissan on the phone, and chatted to another representative on the web. Neither was able to help me. But, I talked to my 13 year old daughter, and it took her only a minute to solve the problem. I had entered my last name (which often causes problems) as “St. Xxx” Nissan’s computer had recorded it as “St Xxx” with two spaces! I had tried many variations, with and without periods and spaces, but putting in two spaces had not occurred to me or to Nissan’s customer service people. Go teenagers!

  • Leo Z.

    I never knew you had to register before 4/20 to be eligible to reserve on 4/20!

    I marked my calendar for 4/20, waited and waited, and on 4/20, Oopsie, you have to wait 2 more months!

    I don’t understand why they made such a convoluted procedure. I reserved for other cars or non-cars (iphone, ipad, etc.) many times before and never experienced such a two-step nonsense.

    (I have to conclude that Nissan has superb engineers, but their marketing people are just so screwed-up!)

    Any one knows if there’s any way to make reservation with registration on or after 4/20 without waiting for 2 more months?

  • LJB

    So–those of you who were able to register…after you entered your credit card info, did you get a “success” page, or receive a confirmation email, or if you log in now, does it show that you’re registered?

    If so, yay for you, boo for me. :-(
    If not–if you log in, and there’s a link to get a reservation, and if clicking that tells you too that you have to complete your payment…welcome to my world.

    Thanks–

  • garygid

    I thought they said public reservations start 15 May, just over 3 weeks extra wait.

    I reserved and paid at about 2:30 (CA time), just after I got my personalized pre-reservation email. No problem, used MasterCard.

  • Stephen Hardman

    I had no problems. Everything on the Web site worked well at 5:55 EST. I did not notice that the entry fields for the credit card numbers were not large enough for the font. But often that is a function of having a large default font. I checked the field contents by using the arrow keys and all of the information was correct. I received a confirmation with a confirmation number within about 2 minutes after starting.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    LJB,
    I got a confirmation page after I registered. I recommend you call or ‘live chat’ with them to confirm.
    It’s too bad the system didn’t seem to work too well but the good news is that it seems like that was because it was overwhelmed – and that’s from folks, most of whom have never had the privilege of driving a real electric car before.
    I only hope that they really do come through with the fast charge port. 3.3 kW is way too slow to charge an EV. The EV1 charged at 7 kW, twice as fast. With a sub-30 minute charge, even a 100 mile EV is competitive against a gasoline car.

  • John McAvoy

    Who says 100 mile range is not adequate for most motorists? I drive over 15,000 a year but can count on one hand the number of days I drive over 90 miles in a single day during an entire year and when I do, I can drive a different car that either I own or rent.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    John McAvoy,
    Anyone who actually does drive over 100 miles per day on a regular basis should really be pushing for everyone else to buy one of these cars as that person really needs something to put downward pressure on gasoline demand.
    I drive about 80 miles on the average day and figure that, with the Leaf, I’ll probably want to charge at work since the LA4 driving cycle that is used for Nissan’s 100 mile estimate is a bit weak for my 65+ mph commute.
    Even at 120v, one can get an extra 40 miles of driving during an 8-hour day.
    Based on my experience with the EV1 and the Tesla, I’d suggest that Leaf buyers expect to drive only about 75 miles of real-world driving on a charge on a regular basis. Anything further will need an intermediate or destination charge.

  • alan143

    Here’s a mighty persuasive argument in favour of buying the Leaf – the future price of oil:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/china-just-grew-its-oil-demand-by-10x-the-rate-of-global-supply-growth-2010-4#ixzz0ljTd28kz

    Will any other car, bought new, still have a resale value five years from now?

  • LJB

    ex-EV1 driver,

    I did live chat with them last night. The person I chatted with told me they got overwhelmed (even though the site was very responsive), and that I should check in again today, but it’s behaving the same–I’m in some odd in-between state, where it’s telling me I need to complete my purchase, but it won’t let me.

    If you log in to their site now, does it indicate you have your reservation in-hand?

    Thanks, and congrats to you!

    LJB

  • hamilton

    This evening, the log-in and reservation process worked smoothly for me: at the end, I received a splash page with confirmation number, “reserved on” date, and a “by June 30th we will tell you when the Leaf will hit your market” message.

    An email confirmation showed up shortly thereafter with this ominous disclaimer:
    ” When sales commence in December 2010, limited quantities available in select markets/states thru online reservation system. Increased avail. in spring 2011 with full market rollout thru 2012. At start of sale, one order per household address until avail. increases.”

    Could be a long wait!

  • Jerry Ludwig

    I see the future. I see fast chargers at the library. I see them at the grocery store. I see them at rest stops on the freeway. Dentists. I see them at places of work. I see them near places people get there hair cut.

    But then I see generation 3. It’s battery unplugs. You pull up a place to exchange your empty battery for a full one. This process takes about as long as refuling a Dino-burner.

    I see the fast charger thing getting faster, of course.

    Nissan has done a good thing. A very very good thing.

  • Max Reid

    Great job Nissan. They have a president who is so bold.

    Parallely Chevy is launching Volt in October instead of December.
    And Toyota is planning to launch Prius Minivan.

    All are getting there. Next year should be revolutionary.

  • Max Reid

    Eric

    Appreciated, hope you buy the car and use and enjoy it to the fullest extent.

  • Michael helminiak

    I got a email on tuesday with very little info, NO leaf artwork? My 1 year old imac got an email that had the large blue leaf artwork with a reserve now botton, but clicking on it did nothing?I had EV! in ’97 and miss driving electric. I can’t get through to nissan to reserve a leaf?

  • Jim Quinlan

    Too bad Nissan’s web development team created such a poor web system for this rollout. The managers should be ashamed of themselves for not testing the system. As a web developer myself, there were way too many bugs in the system. I changed my email many days before the 20th using Nissan’s web system. Even though they said it was changed they still sent my reservation email to the original email address. Not that big of a deal but it shows how poorly designed that system is. And then my American express credit card wouldn’t work. Very screwy.

    So after venting about their poorly designed computer system I must say I am very excited about this automobile and so looking forward to purchasing one. Big time Kudos for the management team of Nissan on developing this car. I’m very impressed with Nissan. Now if they could only get their web development act together …..

  • Lost Prius to wife

    ex-EV1 driver, I think your answer to John McAvoy is very realistic. Once you do get your Leaf, could you give everyone maybe a once a month report as to how it is working out for you? I know I would be interested in actual mileage per charge, what kind of extra charge you can actual get from the 120 volt system at work, and any other thoughts, suggestions or problems that you should discover. I have a 50 mile round trip commute with no clear way to “extra charge” at work. And I know that if I needed to do some personal business after work it could easily rack up more than 25 miles. Knowing how realistic the 100 mile range is will be of great interest to me. I am sure the Leaf will be an excellent car, especially if Nissan really wants the Leaf to sell and not “be the most expensive public-relations boondoggle this industry has ever seen.”

  • George Parrott

    I also had a complete failure with the embedded “reserve now” link in the 20 April posting from Nissan. After much time and 2 separate calls to their service number (first on 20 April and then again on 21 April), I finally got a survey from Nissan and on that comments section noted my frustration about the reservation process failure. The survey manager, apparently, actually read that note, copied it back to me and one of their internal managers and within about 2 hours I got a real person calling me and then a followup call about 30 minutes later from another Nissan staffer who took my reservation request details personally. I have NOT yet received the confirmation email with those details noted, but I remain…. guardedly optimistic ! We currently have both the 2006 Prius and the 2007 Camry Hybrid and even went to Tokyo last November to see the roll-out of the Leaf at the Tokyo Auto Show there. We already have our garage wired with a dedicated 220V/50amp circuit ready for the charging system.

  • TexHooper

    Once there is a mid-sized EV that gets over 250 miles a charge and charges to at least 80% capacity in 20 minutes, I will be interested in making a purchase at that price. It’s just too much money for what it can do. I do admit, however, it is a step in the right direction to remove the United States’ need of foreign oil.

  • Brad Berman, Editor

    Lost Prius to Wife,
    Good suggestion about keeping each other posted about Leaf ordering, and performance once we start driving it. The Good News for all Leaf Fans: HybridCars.com is a few weeks away from launching PluginCars.com, which will have dedicated community tools for Leaf owners–news, forums, twitter feeds, etc. We’ll have the same for the other top plug-in cars, like Volt, Karma, i-MiEV, Focus Electric, Prius PHEV…

    And I’ll be posting right there with you. Without even going back to the Leaf registration website, I got this note in my email (two days after submitting my registration):

    “Thank you for reserving your place in automotive history. we have received your fully refundable reservation payment of $99, which has been charged to your credit card. we will be in touch by June 30 with more details on your spot and how to begin preparing your home for your new car.* so buckle your seat belt, because you’re now that much closer to The New Car becoming your new car.”

    Exciting times!

  • mls21

    So the Leaf is priced at $32,780 according to Nissan marketing. Does anyone know what the actual price will be when you show up at a dealership and they have put in a navigation system, leather interior, and added in some b.s. protection package that includes 5 “free” oil changes (not that this car needs an oil change of course, but something will replace it)? This isn’t a knock on Nissan of course, since this is standard auto manufacturer practice. I’m just wondering what a decent version of the Leaf will cost?

  • Eric G

    mls21: Nav system is standard so that you can always find the nearest place to plug in if needed. The only option is to get the upgrade package for a little under $1000 more and includes several extras. Of course I’m sure the dealer will still be trying to get every last dime out of you with their own accessories and misc. ways to drain your wallet.

  • mls21

    Thanks for the input Eric. I went and checked out the website after posting this and saw that the vehicle appears to come pretty well loaded. Smart move by Nissan.

    One thing I did notice is that the Leaf will have standard DC charging outlets for cell phones or whatever. You’d have to know your car’s capabilities pretty well to try and stretch towards that 100 mile range and plug in your cell phone for charging at the same time. I wonder if they will provide the equivalent of an EV “gas light” that will give the driver a proper heads up? It could probably use the same algorithms used by any laptop computer to try and give a proper estimate of remaining battery life.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    mls21,
    Any modern electric car should have a ‘fuel gauge’ that tells you how full the battery is (generally similar to a cellphone or laptop computer). The good ones I’ve had (EV1 and Tesla Roadster) also have a predicted ‘range left’ based upon your current driving conditions. I’m pretty sure that Nissan isn’t stupid enough to not have something like this. If not, they can count me out from buying one and I’ll be nominating them to star in the sequel of “Who Killed the Electric Car”. While not perfect, once you get used to them, you can use these to get a pretty good idea how far you can go. Of course, for one’s daily commute, you will just fall into a routine of just:
    - unplug your car
    - drive to work
    - maybe plug in at work if it is more than about 30 miles away
    - Work
    - unplug your car (if necessary)
    - drive home
    - plug in
    You never really worry about the battery state of charge unless you happen to be going somewhere different. If going somewhere different, Google maps is pretty good at telling you whether you can take the EV or dig out the old gas guzzler (and hope the battery can still start it).
    The convenience of plugging and unplugging depends on where your charging station or wall outlet happens to be but usually takes only a few seconds.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Brad Berman,

    Please make sure that each site (HybridCars.com and PluginCars.com) has a link button that basically toggles from one to the other. The way I see the near future is: hybrids will meet the needs of people going longer distances a majority of the time while plug-ins and electric cars will meet the needs for commuting to and from work and buzzing around one’s community for groceries, hardware, and such. I really do not see the near future as having all electric cars $30K and under being able to go 350 to 500 miles on a single charge. The way I see the near future (within five years) for my wife and I is one or two plug-in cars (maybe hybrid, maybe not) and one high mileage hybrid (maybe plug-in, maybe not) for long trips. To understand which ones to buy will require information from both sites.

    Once an electric grid system for cars has been really established across the nation (I see that as much more far future), what everyone will have in their garages, myself included, will change again. Obviously, the Leaf will be a trailblazer for that future.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    LjB,
    The site is still a bit confused when I log in. I take this to be a good thing since I believe it indicates that Nissan was overwhelmed by the positive response to the Leaf. As EV’s come into the mainstream, we’ll all have to live the pioneer life as we’ll never really be sure what’s up ahead. The faint-of-heart will need to stick with gas-guzzlers for a while as the adventurers explore this new concept of driving without gasoline.
    I hope that Brad’s new PluginCars.com website or others will help us to get our questions answered during this new phase of sustainable transportation.
    Today’s evnut.com provides a clearinghouse of info for the RAV4EV pioneers who have been driving electric for nearly the past decade. It should all get easier, eventually, for Leaf owners because there will be so many of them compared to the few hundred RAV4EV owners.

  • Waiting Patiently

    I got the email on the 17th, saying that I would be receiving the reservation instructions on the 20th.

    Now it’s 48 hours late, and still no reservation instructions! Is there anyone I can call at Nissan to ask about this? What’s the phone number?

    Thanks!

  • mls21

    I figured there was a pretty sophisticated means of doing this. It wouldn’t make sense to add in that technology, since it seems pretty mature given all of the battery powered electronics we have in our society.

    I couldn’t help myself on the DC charger though. I kept thinking of that Simpsons episode where Homer plugs in all of those appliances in his car (including an Easy-Bake Oven) to the point that he can’t see out the window. When realizing he is about to drive off a dock, he sticks a memo reading “SOS” into a cigarette lighter powered fax machine.

    I think you are spot on about the driving routine. Most of us have a driving routine we follow every day and likely don’t realize the rut we are in. This car would be an excellent option for me, since I have about a 25 mile round trip to work, and we are a 2-car family.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Waiting Patiently,
    go to http://www.www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car and you’ll find the phone number [1(877) NO GAS EV or 1(877) 664-2738] and a live chat place. You can try both.

  • Ral

    I too have been wary of those dealers that find a new product that falls into the, (WHAT THE TRAFFIC WILL BEAR) category. Remember the 6 month wait for the Prius, with
    the $7-$10 thou markup? I live in the Vegas market, and won’t trust any of the
    Nissan dealers to give me a fair deal. Only time will tell.

  • Ral

    Especially, the 15 FACTS!

  • donpatbaer

    I logged on a 10 am PDST – it took about 45 minutes – including waiting and it said I was successful and would respond with a reservation number before 6 PM EDT. They did, at 5:59 pm. On next day they emailed again to confirm the reservation #. My “preferred” dealer said he was charging the MSRP Period, no monkey business. In Washington we are exempt from sales tax on car which save a couple of grand.
    If United Airlines took 6 hours to confirm a $ 99 ticket they would go out of business.
    Yesterday afternoon Nissan “chat site” said they receoved about 3400 (not 34000) reservations. I think they were a bit underwhelmed to say the least. At one point I had a 34 minute wait on “chat site”
    DFB

  • Fred Benson

    Got the email, but the very first step says it can’t confirm my information (name & zip code). I called Nissan a couple of times, they have my info exactly as I’m entering it, but it won’t let me through the gate. Said they’d escalate it and I wouldn’t lose my place in line (pre-reg is open through the 15th). To their credit, everyone I spoke/chatted with was the picture of friendliness and seemed very knowledgeable about the car and the process.

    I’m at the 48-hour mark, waiting for a callback. Still hopeful.

  • Early74B

    I guess I’m an early adopter (owned a ’98 New Beetle TDI and now an ’08 smart fortwo coupe) so can put up with a few hoops to jump through … only down side is that the LEAF won’t initially be available in Chicago until after the first wave — patience is something learned from both the Beetle and smart purchases but both were good outcomes. Would have even loved a NG powered Civic but again, Chicago isn’t a target market. Being a cold rust-belt state we also didn’t even get to see a LEAF at this year’s Chicago Auto Show! — was able to confirm a reservation OK but don’t expect much until late 2011 at this point. I’ve checked on other forums to see if the reservation confirmation number means anything and while one thought it might be an arriival date (Mercedes smart did this) I looked mine up (Nissan uses a UNIX system, convert to HEX and then decimlal, then UNIX date) and it was dated 1995 so they’re pretty much just a random number at this point. I did also see the temporary charge to my credit card so that went through as well — as far as the range, etc. The 100 mile range will suit both my wife who has a short commute as well as myself — may be a bit concerned on really cold days (below zero doesn’t happen as much in IL as say MN) but we have other vehicles and it would go in a heated garage anyway. If this doesn’t pan out I may step up to the new Tesla sedan but that’s at least 2012 and they don’t have the resources of a Nissan to make it any sooner!

  • Anonymous

    Gas2.0 is reporting that Leaf pre-orders are up to approaching 7,000 after two days!

    http://gas2.org/2010/04/23/6635-nissan-leaf-reservations-in-just-over-two-days/

  • LJB

    So, after a call to their help (as others said, very friendly, found me in the system but couldn’t comment on my status, assured me my place in line was intact, said she’d escalate), a day later my confirmation email showed up. Nice.

    However…if I go log in to the Leaf site and then click on “my account”, it still takes me to the page that shows a nearly completed progress bar, and above says “to confirm your reservation, please complete your payment”. There is a button to complete payment. Formerly, that button would take me to a page with a video about how the reservation process works; however, while I was on the phone with their help desk, the site went down–the person on the phone said they were doing a quick maintenance. After said maintenance, clicking the “complete your payment” button, after a bit of a wait, refreshes the page but adds in yellow text near the bottom a message that their servers are heavily loaded, come back in an hour.

    Translation: Something’s wrong, we don’t know what, go away. :-)

    Anybody else log in to the site and click on the my account link, and see your actual status? I’d be stoked to know either (a) that’s working for some folks, or (b) it’s failing for everyone.

    Cheers,

    LJB

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Wow!
    6,635 people reserving cars in just three days
    2,700 reservations in the first three hours
    see:
    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/04/strong-demand-nissan-leaf/
    No wonder the website had such trouble.

  • Hogie

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t receive the email they promised. I’m a little concerned about their ability to handle technology….

  • Curt Eggemeyer

    I placed my order for an white SL option Leaf. I’m so looking forward to it. I’m 55yrs old and this will be my 3rd and hopefully final car. This car will work perfectly for me. I use my car every other week to run to the store and short trips, so I figure my charge frequency to average out at once a month, so I figure the batteries will last easily over 10 years.

    I commute 55miles to work on a motorcycle, so the Leaf in that long distance case would be used only when it rains (in Los Angeles should not be often :-). At least there is a charging station where I work, so no problem about the range.

    Can’t wait to raise my fist and stick it to Big Oil.

    BTW: Gas prices will start their climb the end of this year, since we have hit the peak oil point for the world.

  • Srini

    The naysayers are just shills for the fossil fuel industry or they they personally don’t care about the environment. Finally a car that runs on electricity and does not cost a lot of money like the Tesla. This will truly become a popular car if it delivers on time and for the price as stated.

    I for one can’t imagine why people won’t rush out and buy this car. I currently own a Mercedes Benz and can’t wait to ditch it for this car.

  • Mikey

    Jerry Flint is an idiot. Demand for plug in cars will explode over the next five years, and the Nissan Leaf will be hailed as a sure bet genius move.

  • chicha

    Same thing happened to me and the lived chat representative told me someone from Nissan will call within a week but they never did! I didn’t do anything until last week when I decided to try to reserve the car again and were able to do so. Good luck to you!

  • Paulie G

    Here is a great new site dedicated to the LEAF: http://www.nissan-leaf.net

  • Doug Smallman

    The Nissan leaf has the chance of going down in history as a major automotive turning point. I am a dedicated petrolhead living in Africa but the future is very obvious to me!

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