Before Nissan sold a single Leaf electric car, it had 20,000 pre-orders in North America alone. Yet some people on this reservation list are mysteriously being dropped, and it could be because they haven’t installed a home charging station.
According to a report by Bloomberg, some of the 20,000 pre-order customers have found themselves dropped from the waiting list with no warning, and then asked to reapply if they could not prove they had a home charging station installed.
Now just hold on here a second. Is Nissan saying that it won’t sell you a Leaf EV if you don’t have a charging station? No…and yes, as it turns out. By asking people to reapply for purchasing a Leaf if they can’t prove they don’t have a charging station for a car they don’t own yet, Nissan is setting a pretty screwy precedent, even as they struggle to get cars to customers in a timely fashion.
Now I do understand that supplies of the Nissan Leaf are limited, especially after the devastating tsunami that struck northeast Japan. And it only makes sense to deliver cars to those with the means to install a home charging station, and get the most out of their car. Personally though, I’ve always been a fan of first come, first serve. Most Leaf buyers are already fairly affluent, tech saavy, and not exactly in need of an electric car, so I won’t shed tears over a few of them having to wait a bit longer. But if I lost my place in line over some stipulation I’m just hearing about…I would not be a happy camper (and I might even buy a Volt just to spite Nissan.)
I’m also not thrilled that a car company is picking and choosing its customers, especially for what is supposed to be the first mass market EV. Again, I understand wanting to find the best home for your product; but dropping people without fair warning is just rude, and not conducive to building a loyal customer base.
The Japanese automaker has toned down its delivery expectations for 2011 in the U.S., from 20,000 vehicles to around 10,000. To date Leaf deliveries have been slow, though over 1,100 of the EV’s were delivered in May, and Nissan CEO Carlso Ghosn estimates that over 1,500 will find their owners in June. They had better step the pace up if they want to reach even 10,000 deliveries this year though.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.