Seven more states able to order 2012 LEAF with entire US able to order by March 2012
From a potential LEAF owner’s perspective, getting news from Nissan North America regarding the ability to reserve and order a LEAF has been at times exhilarating, frustrating, exhausting and infuriating. Now, hopefully we can add satisfying to the list.
Today Nissan announced the reopening of reservations with orders being taken in these seven states: Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Nissan is saying that deliveries should begin in Spring 2012 in these new markets. According to apples4theteacher.com, the first day of Spring 2012 is March 20. As this is written on December 6, 2011, this would imply a delivery schedule of just over 3 months. This is about what we would expect from anyone entering a special order for any vehicle manufactured in Japan. This would also imply that production schedules may finally be at or near the optimum LEAF building capacity of about 4,100 units per month, or 50,000 units per year from Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan.
In the above linked press release, Nissan has acknowledged delivery of 20,000 LEAFs since delivery began a year ago. This would be some 30,000 short of potential capacity out of Oppama. Then again, production from all Japanese manufacturers was severely impacted by the Asian disasters this year. As US LEAF awareness increases and the understanding of electric vehicles (EVs) improves we see the potential added capacity that Smyrna is to provide next year as being timely. The Nissan plant in Smyrna Tennessee is slated to produce as many as 150,000 LEAFs annually, with the capacity to produce 200,000 battery packs to coincide with that vehicle production. If the Smyrna ramp-up follows that of the Oppama plant, look for extremely limited output for the first several months as all processes are evaluated. Production will be slowly ramped up as quality targets are closely watched. Look for the Smyrna plant to start production in late 2012.
To our knowledge, no other manufacturer will offer nationwide availability of any mass market electric car prior to that of the Nissan LEAF. While the road that Nissan has taken to get to this point has not been a particularly smooth one, pioneers are often noted for making their own paths. Bumps, ruts and potholes come with the territory. In todays internet age of instant communication and ever more instant gratification, consumer expectations are often impossibly high (in many areas). We feel that Nissan has done a good job of producing a high quality product in an extremely challenging year. We will watch with interest the uptake of the LEAF in these new markets as the rollout continues.