Over a morning conference call for just a few members of the media — of which I was happy to be a part during my layover in Seattle on my way out to the New York Auto Show — Brian Carolin, Nissan’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, spilled the long-awaited pricing beans on the upcoming Nissan LEAF electric car.
Contrary to some of the recent rumors, at a base price of $32,780 it is relatively affordable… so affordable, in fact, that, after the $7,500 federal tax credit, Nissan is able to offer the LEAF for a lease price of $349 a month not including generous state incentives. When you add in some of those — like a $5,000 tax credit in California, up to $6,000 in Colorado, $5,000 in Georgia, and $1,500 in Oregon — all of a sudden you might be talking a final price of around $20K.
As Mr. Carolin said during the conference call, the LEAF lease of $349 runs for 36 months and includes a $1,999 down payment. Nissan has always said they want to storm the market with EVs, and at that price it certainly seems attainable. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to get a $33,000 car for $20,000 — regardless of its propulsion system? But with this one, you get zero emissions and incredibly cheap “fueling” costs to boot.
“Imagine the possibility of never needing to go to a gas station again. Or of paying less than $3 for 100 miles behind the wheel. Or of creating zero emissions while driving,” said Mr. Carolin. “Nissan leads the industry by offering the first affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the mass market. Nissan LEAF truly is in a class by itself.”
Two Trim Levels
The starting price of $32,780 is for the SV “base” model with standard equipment such a navigation system, Internet connectivity, bluetooth, LED headlights, a key with push button start, Sirius/XM satellite radio, roadside assistance, stability control, traction control and six airbags. The LEAF also comes standard with many recycled and recyclable materials, including seat fabric, instrument panels, and front- and rear-bumper fascias.
In addition to the base model, Nissan will also be offering a more tricked out SL model for an additional $940. The SL adds in features such as a rearview monitor, a solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights. Production of both trim levels will begin in September although they won’t hit showrooms until December. Brian Carolin said that there will be approximately 50,000 LEAFs available for sale in the 2011 calendar year.
Home Charging Stations
Also announced during the conference call was an option for the installation of a 220V home charging station priced at an “average cost” of $2,200. Of course, actual pricing may vary widely depending on the electrical state of your home, but a home wiring assessment is included at no charge.
The stations will be built and installed by AeroVironment and can be bought at the same time as the vehicle. If that cost is rolled into the lease price, it would add an extra $30 a month to the lease. Both the charging station and the installation are eligible for a 50% federal tax credit up to $2,000. Based on average electricity rates in the US, Nissan is claiming that the LEAF will cost less than $3 to “fill up” in your garage.
Purchase Process Revealed
As has long been known, the LEAF will go on sale in December of this year. Those who are signed up on the LEAF interest list (of which Nissan says there are now 85,000!) will be given the first shot at getting their names in line on the actual reservation list when Nissan opens it up on April 20. To ensure your place in line at that time, you’ll need to pay a fully refundable $99 reservation fee.
In August, people who have plunked down the $99 reservation fee will be able to start ordering their own LEAFs based on their place on the list and geographic location. Nissan has guaranteed certain areas of the US — such as Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and some parts of California — access to the LEAF first. If you don’t live in those areas, don’t fret, every month of 2011 Nissan plans on adding additional markets so that “By the end of 2011 [the LEAF] will be nationwide,” as Carolin said. Paying the reservation fee also allows you access to “special upcoming Nissan LEAF events,” according to Nissan.
So, now that we know the actual base starting price of the LEAF, what do you think? Is the second coming of the electric car all starting to come together clearly yet? Now that we have some firm pricing out in the open for the vanguard EV, it somehow seems more real to me.