Nissan Leaf buyers reserve their cars

Nissan Motor Co. said Friday that buyers have already reserved more than 20% of the first year’s production of its Leaf electric vehicle.

About 6,600 U.S. consumers have paid the $99 reservation fee, and 3,700 in Japan have done the same. Nissan said it will make about 50,000 Leaf cars the first year. The automaker has said it wants to have about 40% of production reserved by December, when the car goes on sale.

The all-electric hatchback will cost $32,780. But government subsidies will reduce the price for California buyers by about a third. There’s a federal tax credit of $7,500 for electric vehicles. And Californians are eligible for an additional $5,000 rebate through the state Air Resources Board. In California, that brings the base price for the standard Leaf to $20,280.

The car will be available in two versions: the standard ST model and the more premium SL, which costs an additional $940 and includes a rear-view backup camera and a solar-panel spoiler to charge an accessory battery.

Both versions will be powered by a 24-kilowatt-hour, laminated lithium-ion battery pack that will allow the Leaf to travel 100 miles per charge and reach a top speed of 90 mph.

Nissan said that about 75% of its U.S. reservations are for the higher-end SL model. And about the same percentage is from what the automaker calls its primary launch markets: Tennessee, where Nissan has its U.S. headquarters, and California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.

For now, the Leaf will be built in Japan. U.S. production is scheduled to start in Smyrna, Tenn., in 2012.