What is the current status of LEAF distribution?
2011 Nissan LEAF production has ramped up to near its capacity levels. Full Oppama, Japan capacity is still only around 4,100 units per month for global distribution. And remember that all Japanese industrial and manufacturing companies have had their electric supply reduced by 15%. So max production is probably limited at least by that amount, so that brings the total down to less than 3,500 units per month. If the United States ultimately gets half of those, that is right around 1,750. June 2011 sales hit 1,708. Our projection is that you won’t see significantly higher monthly numbers than these until Smyrna, Tennessee comes online in late 2012. We could be surprised. It wouldn’t be the first time. Although full production is slated to be 150,000 units annually from Tennessee, look for a very slow ramp up in production as we saw in Oppama as quality is closely monitored. It took Oppama several months to get to 4,100 LEAFs per month. We don’t see Smyrna moving a whole lot faster (if at all). Still, the prospect of 12,500 LEAFs a month being produced sounds pretty good to these ears.
More immediately, we come back to the question – “When can I get my LEAF?” That depends.
Early reservationists plunked down their $99 fifteen months ago. Some have not yet been allowed to order. Many have, but the order may have been placed several months ago. Circumstances could have changed during that time. This leads to – you guessed it – “orphan” LEAFs.
An orphan LEAF exists when a reservation turns into an order and when the order is fulfilled – that is, the LEAF is delivered to the dealership – the person that placed the order declines to take possession. This could, and does, happen for any number of reasons. That LEAF now belongs to the dealer, it is no longer the property of Nissan Corporation. The dealer may sell that vehicle to whomever they choose to, at whatever price they are willing to accept.
If you have an interest in an orphan LEAF, these are some things that you might want to consider. The law of supply and demand has not been repealed for these cars. Just because the original order was cancelled, that does not mean that there are no potential buyers for the car. It just means that the person that ordered it no longer wants it. What should you do if you have an interest? The same thing that you would do with any other item that you are shopping for – namely – shop around.
Call Nissan dealers in your area and ask if they have (or had) any orphan LEAFs. Ask what their pricing is for the cars. Some dealers are asking (and getting) significant markups from Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) while others are satisfied selling the car for MSRP. Don’t expect to buy the car for less than MSRP (See “Law of Supply and Demand”). If you wish to drive the car before you buy it, ask if they have a demo car that you can drive while your name is on the wait list for an orphan. Some people “need” a LEAF and will pay substantial amounts of money to get one.
Keep in mind, the 2012 Nissan LEAF is looking at a $2420 starting price increase which includes heated seats (front and rear), heated steering wheel, and a battery warmer. If you live in a moderate climate, and will not benefit by having these in your car, you might be a perfect candidate for a 2011 Nissan LEAF orphan. If you can find one. And not pay too much.