Drive a LEAF – Round Two

by Ernie Hernandez on July 13, 2011

Silver LEAF being driver

Nissan offers LEAF consumer drives again

With the completion of Nissan’s first round of consumer LEAF drive events, which ran from October 2010 through March 2011, Nissan found about 50,000 consumers interested in driving this new means of transportation. As interest in electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, Nissan has launched round two of the Nissan Drive Electric Tour. Coming to 26 cities across the United States, if you (or someone that you know) missed the opportunity the first time, here’s your chance.

This time the tour will move from East to West and back again. It started on Long Island, New York on July 8, will make its way to Seattle, Washington on December 9,  and will end in Miami, Florida in January, 2012. The full schedule of dates and places may be seen at www.drivenissanleaf.com.

Nissan’s LEAF is currently offered for sale in the original launch states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. Additional markets are slated to open later this year, expanding nationally by next year. Over 350,000 individuals have expressed interest in the LEAF on the Nissan website.

Look for LEAF supply to be constrained by two factors at the moment – global production is being addressed by one plant in Oppama, Japan with an ultimate optimum output of 50,000 units per year for global consumption. That said, production will be limited for the foreseeable future by limited electricity supply to most Japanese manufacturers – whether they build cars, computers or televisions. While physical plants may be operational, one needs electricity to build product. With the nationwide grid taxed by a limited electric power supply, a quick fix will not likely be available. The Smyrna, Tennessee plant slated to begin LEAF production late next year has now offered that they are likely to begin production on schedule. This plant will ultimately have the capacity to produce 150,000 units per year. Don’t look for anywhere near that production initially. As we found in Oppama, Nissan will likely move very slowly initially to ensure the quality of each vehicle produced meets a high production standard. As vehicle production is confirmed to meet quality standards, unit production will ramp up. As this happens, look for LEAF distribution to ultimately mirror standard internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle distribution with vehicles being available on dealer lots for purchase. That likely will not happen until well into calendar year 2013 – possibly even 2014. Until then, look for Nissan’s current reservation system to be the norm for vehicle acquisition. Look for an article about the process (and your other options) soon.

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