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Nissan announces pricing for all-electric Leaf

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Nissan announced pricing for its highly anticipated all-electric Leaf automobile Tuesday. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 5-door hatchback will be $32,780 when it enters the market in December, or $349 per month if leased.

Applying the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles reduces the price of Nissan’s zero-emission Leaf to $25,280. Californians are also eligible for an additional $5,000 rebate through the Air Resources Board.

‘We wanted to be equivalent on a monthly operating cost to an internal combustion vehicle that’s similarly equipped. That set the precedent for the price,’ said Trisha Jung, director of EV marketing and sales strategy for Nissan North America in Franklin, Tenn.

To determine its price, Nissan looked at the vehicles it felt were most likely to be cross-shopped by customers, she said, including the gas-powered Honda Civic ($22,255 MSRP) and hybrid Toyota Prius ($25,830 MSRP).

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‘Price,’ Jung said, ‘is important. It’s is one of the favorite questions we’ve gotten over the past few months. We know consumers care about that.’

The Leaf is positioned as ‘the first affordable mass-market zero emissions electric car’ and is ‘a great opportunity for Nissan to bring in new customers,’ Jung said, adding that Nissan will still make a profit off the Leaf despite its relatively low sticker price.

The Leaf’s price is far less than the only other currently available pure-electric car on the market, the $109,000 Tesla Roadster sport car. Pricing for the many other electric cars that have been announced but are not yet in production, including the Chevrolet Volt, also due later this year, hasn’t yet been revealed.

Pricing for the Leaf in Nissan’s native Japan, also made public today, is about $40,000.

The Leaf will be available in two versions -- a standard-grade ST model and the more premium SL, which adds a backup camera and solar-panel spoiler to trickle charge an accessory battery for an additional $940. Both versions are powered with a 24-killowatt-hour laminated lithium ion battery pack that will allow the Leaf to travel 100 miles per charge and reach a top speed of 90 miles per hour.

The ST and SL each include three years of roadside assistance as well as a navigation system equipped with a real-time EV charging station locator that will be updated as public charging stations are built throughout the nation. ‘Fast charging’ the Leaf to 80% of its charge takes about 25 minutes, Jung said.

The $2,200, 220-volt at-home charging dock from Nissan partner AeroVironment is also eligible for a 50% federal rebate.

Nissan estimates the Leaf’s five-year operating cost to be $1,800 versus $6,000 for a gas-powered car.

Those who choose to lease, rather than buy, the Leaf will also benefit from federal and state incentives. Since the federal tax credit applies to the owner of the vehicle which, if the vehicle is leased, is Nissan’s finance unit, Nissan will apply the federal tax credit to the lessee’s monthly payment. According to Nissan, the monthly lease on a Leaf will be $349 versus $312 for a Civic or $330 for a Prius. Applying the California Air Resources Board rebate reduces the monthly Leaf lease to less than $200.

About 85,000 individuals have registered on Nissan’s U.S. website to receive updates about the product. They will be the first customers eligible to reserve a Leaf when Nissan launches its reservation system April 20. On May 15, Nissan will expand its reservation system to customers who haven’t registered on its website. Nissan hopes to have taken 20,000 reservations for the Leaf by December. Its current production capacity for the vehicle is 50,000 annually.

-- Susan Carpenter


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