Driving Blue LEAF

Wait for other EVs likely to be as long

This started out being the response to a reader’s comment, but it kept getting longer so we turned it into a post. This was the comment:

Very discouraged. If September orders are not yet on the way then the interval sounds like seven months or more which mean my lousy (Nissan controlled) order date of December 1 will likely not show up until June or July or later. From when I said I had an interest and when Nissan said deliveries would start in December my interval will be well over a year. I doubt I would have started this process if I had known this then. Maybe one of the alternatives will actually come to market sooner???

The current timing from order to delivery is roughly 6 months. I ordered on September 3, and am looking at delivery in March. Early March will be closer to 6 months. Late march will be closer to 7. I just re-uploaded the article dated September 4 discussing our order, and our reasoning behind wanting to own an EV.

Be aware of a couple of things – Nissan is being cautious ramping up production to maintain quality. Were I in Nissan’s shoes, I would be doing the same. I do feel that perhaps they overpromised up front, regarding expected deliveries, timing and perhaps even expected driving range. But as has already been found out by another electric car maker, if you ramp up production too quickly, mistakes can be made which result in recalls. Nissan is doing their best to avoid that situation. If it involves longer delivery times, they are willing to live with that, and obviously their desire is that their customers will be willing to live with that too. Also, keep in mind that when it comes to pure battery electric vehicles (EVs), Nissan is (even with its slow initial rollout) going to be significantly ahead of the game at the end of their first 12 months than any other automobile manufacturer on the planet.

Regarding the second portion of the above comment – maybe one of the alternatives will come to market sooner??? – my answer is… not likely. Not that I’m knocking any other manufacturer with a foot in the game, it is just that nobody else has made the commitment to the EV in the same way that Nissan has – in whatever way one wishes to measure commitment. Nissan has invested billions of dollars over the past 18 years developing modern Lithium Ion battery technology for use in an automobile. The italicized portion of that previous sentence is important. As a comparative illustration, the Tesla Roadster is actually a derivative of a previous vehicle – the AC Propulsion tzero. The tzero prototype as presented in 1997 used lead acid batteries. Lithium Ion batteries did not come along for this vehicle until 2003 using essentially laptop computer batteries. By comparison, Nissan by 1996 had developed a Lithium Ion battery designed specifically for use in an automobile. And Nissan’s own experiments with lead acid electric cars date to 1947. Keep in mind that Toyota partnered with Tesla, as Toyota had not done their own EV developmental work. Toyota is the largest automobile manufacturer in the world (or they were in the last month or two), but EVs are not hybrids. Now to answer your question.

If you visit this thread on GM-Volt.com, you will find just on this page two examples of Volts that had customer orders placed in July or August that are just completing production, or delivery to the dealer, in February. Contrary to GM’s claims of 2 to 4 month delivery time, real customers are stating otherwise. As Ford Focus EV and others come to market, similar lead times will develop as consumer awareness increases, brand loyalties show themselves (Ah… Ford has an EV now. I think I’ll take a look at it…), and real world reports of driving 100 miles on $3 instead of 25 miles for $3 start to make their way into the public’s consciousness. Nissan is not yet producing at their target rate of 4,000 LEAFs per month. Their current goal is to reach this target by the second quarter of this year. If they are able to meet this goal, those later orders should see the lead time reduced as more cars start making their way to the U.S. And to Europe. And to Japan.

2 Comments

  1. I just got an email from Nissan that my Leaf would be delivered in April – reserved April 23, 2010 and ordered December 1, 2010.

    1. Congratulations! So delivery 4-5 months after your order date. August 31 orders were delivered in January, so the process is taking no longer than for those with early orders. We should see the wait time reduced in the spring as more LEAFs make their way to our shores.

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