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.