Nissan LEAF availability improved for 2012 – at a price

by Ernie Hernandez on July 20, 2011

LEAF Charge Port Lid

Improved features bring higher cost for model year 2012

As Nissan makes the LEAF available in more markets for model year 2012, more features will be standard (depending on trim level) accompanied by a higher manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Nissan announced that the ordering process will open July 25 to consumers with existing reservations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Once these existing reservationists in these markets have been addressed, new reservations will be accepted in these new markets along with the existing LEAF markets. New reservations will open on August 4. First deliveries are expected this fall.

So, what are the new features? The DC fast charge port will be standard on the upmodel SL. Previously this was a $700 option. Both the standard SV and SL models will also receive a battery warmer, heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats.

And what is the higher price? LEAF SV will be $35,200 with the SL priced at $37,250. Nissan says that the added features were incorporated based on feedback from existing LEAF owners.

LEAF availability will continue to increase through the remainder of the year. Existing reservationists will be able to turn their reservations into orders in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York in the fall. In addition, LEAF will be made available in Delaware, Indiana, Lousiana, Nevado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island by the end of the year. This will make the LEAF available in 28 states and the District of Columbia by the end of the year. While progress is likely slower than many would like, LEAF availability will be constrained through next year as all production must come out of Oppama, Japan until the Smyrna, Tennessee plant comes online late next year.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Grant July 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Finally coming to the Tier 2 states 15 months after I pre-ordered it. With any luck, I should have it by the end of the year.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) July 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Grant – I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be in any state, other than the original launch states. I truly think that Nissan did not anticipate the huge demand that we have seen in the U.S., nor did they anticipate the global demand for the LEAF. Any manufacturer slated to build just 50,000 of anything (annually) for global consumption, is certainly hedging their bets. That said, they did anticipate strong future demand with a commitment to build 150,000 annually in the U.S. starting late next year. Will there be enough demand to absorb maximum production? Don’t know. Could Nissan have better handled the rollout? Absolutely. Did the earthquake/tsunami create additional chaos? No question.

As strongly as Ghosn’s personal conviction might be in the technology – and he does appear to be genuine – (and yes… I realize that’s his job), from a corporate perspective, Nissan’s job is to make money. And perhaps by creating a demand/supply imbalance (which Nissan’s continued marketing is working to do), they are developing the next wave of LEAF owners. This could be seen as a brilliant marketing move when all future supply is pre-sold. The fact that some early adopters are slighted, due strictly to geographic location, is a result – this may be seen as acceptable collateral damage by the Nissan corporate machine.

In fact, I may pick up this topic as a future article. Thanks for the inspiration.

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John August 3, 2011 at 4:16 am

I recently ordered (7/30/2011) a Leaf in Florida after waiting a year. The problem was that almost none of the dealers were up to date or ready for the tier 2 launch. My local dealer wasn’t “Leaf certified” and those that were had no clue about the ordering process. I finalized with a dealer 65 miles distant simply to beat the “open ordering” available on August 4.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) August 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

John, welcome to Living LEAF. Sorry to hear about your experience. I’ve found that in Southern California, most dealers are fairly “LEAF savvy” now, although that was not the case when the reservation system first opened up to those early orders. As you have found, not all Nissan dealers are LEAF certified. There is a significant dealer expense involved, and some dealers may feel that the return on investment doesn’t warrant the expense. At least not currently. Also, those that have chosen to participate may approach the market with varying levels of commitment. We have definitely seen this to be the case in Southern California. You will find that being an early adopter in your area may, in fact, include educating the dealer to an extent. We expect that LEAF distribution will be more in line with a traditional vehicle purchase once the Smyrna plant comes online, but vehicles from Smyrna are still well over a year away. Good luck!

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Michael Whitworth September 23, 2011 at 3:46 am

Nissan screwed up badly. They aren’t making vehicles for 150,000 people and that is why there are delays- they cannot make enough cars for the original 20,000 they took reservations from a year and a half ago. While the tsunami caused part of the delays, most of the delays were caused by a company that cannot meet even basal low levels of demand, causing some of us to doubt the company’s ability to be sufficiently organized and structured to support the release and servicing of such a product. If they cannot make the damned thing, then why are they spending millions advertising for a car that has not been available for a couple of years since they started advertising and may not be available for the next year or two? There will be other manufacturers coming online with all electrics before the Leaf is ever released in parts of the country. I am so disgusted that I would happily buy a Volt now if one were available at a reasonable price…. But the waiting for the Leaf goes on…and on…..and on….and on…..

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) September 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Michael – welcome to Living LEAF.

I must agree with you that Nissan cannot produce the LEAF in great enough supply to satisfy demand. That said, I think that the demand is higher than even Nissan first imagined.

Nissan all along knew that Oppama could only produce 50,000 LEAFs on an annual basis – this for global release. Apparently Nissan thought that this would be enough to satisfy initial demand. As we have since learned, this would likely have not been enough just to satisfy the demand in the U.S., let alone the rest of the world. They have planned for LEAF construction in Smyrna, TN, but that is not slated to start until the end of next year, and full production of 150,000 per year from that plant will not be achieved until some time in 2013. While you are right that other manufacturers will soon have electric cars, I think that you will find availability will be limited from most other manufacturers as well. No one has made a bigger bet on this technology than Nissan. I think that they were just not prepared for such a rapid change in the thought process of American drivers.

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