Lofty, Leafy Desires

Nissan began it’s online reservation process of the Nissan LEAF a few days ago. In lieu of Earth Day today, what better time to launch the first all-electric vehicle to hit the North American market? Eager customers were given a questionnaire to answer, then asked for their credit card information for the $99 (refundable) reservation line-holder fee. The car itself won’t be available until mid-2011 and will be available in two trim levels: the base SV and the higher-end SL model with parking camera, solar-panel sun roof, fog lights and auto on-off headlights. And what will this nifty little electric vehicle cost in the end? Well, the price is set at $32,780 and you’ll be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. There are also leasing options available on a 36-month term which will set you back $349/month with an initial payment of $1,999.

Now, I get the allure of the Nissan LEAF, I really do. It’s an electric car. We’ve all been salivating at the bit for an all-electric vehicle. While GM has just taken entirely too long (and is expected to release the car in November of 2011, after the LEAF), MINI came to the market with an all-electric vehicle nearly a year ago with the MINI E. Currently there are 600 drivers in the US, UK and Germany driving the MINI E on “loan” to test it’s usability and practicality. It’s interesting that more attention hasn’t been paid to this pilot project.

When I saw the price of the Nissan LEAF, I have to say I was a bit shocked (pun intended). Critics are calling the LEAF a major gamble on Nissan’s part, and I wonder if it has much to do with the cost of it all. True, you’re saving thousands in gas money a year, but it’s still a bit difficult to cough up the cash initially for so little vehicle.

Ah, you say, but you’re paying for the technology.

OK, so I’m paying for the uber-cool and planet-saving technology. But is this environmentally savvy car going to replenish my bank account every month when I have to pay my electricity bill after plugging in a car every night plus the monthlies on the car?

There is much to love about the possibility of electric cars on the road. The technology is there and car manufacturers are diving head first into the idea of producing fully electric vehicles, leaving the world of gasoline behind in a cloud of noxious smoke. But, I still feel we have much to learn about the long-term drivability of cars like the LEAF and Volt, which is why tests like the MINI E are so important for the general public.

If you already registered for our spot at purchasing a Nissan LEAF next year, then good on ya — just make sure you have a SAT NAV handy with all the nearby outlets marked for charging/coffee breaks on any road trips you plan.



Filed Under: Car NewsElectricNissan


  • Elise

    In California, after the $7500 federal tax credit and California Clean Air $5000 rebate, the price of the Leaf will be under $21,000. That and never going to the gas station ever again gets a lot of us in SoCal pretty excited. No servicing of the vehicle – only tires and brakes. And, the Leaf will quaify for a sticker to allow the driver to drive in the carpool lane.

    For me, the political implications are as important as the environmentsl. I am sick and tired of a war we are fighting just to protect our supply of oil from the Middle East. I think the more independent we are from oil the less security risks we face.

    The Leaf is not a car for everyone at the moment but believe me if Dalmier is after Nissan’s batteries you know Nissan is on to something.

  • Jerry Ludwig

    You wrote this article way too early! Nissan is putting a NAV inside the leaf that will tell you where the nearest quick charge station is. The I-5 in Cal. is being designated a “Green Road” with charge station at most every 70 miles or so (maybe 50?). Somebody is putting 7500 charging stations in the nation in year 2011, and you mention the electrical bill without mentioning the gas bill on a smog-car? Ha ha ha. Of course it’s limited range, but my work is also limited range and my guess is something like 99% of the LEAFS will be 2nd or 3rd cars. It’s 21k in California! Indeed, There is much to love about the possibility of Nissan LEAF electric cars on the road.