As of tomorrow, March 1, 2012, the Nissan LEAF will be the first consumer oriented electric vehicle (EV) available across the United States, with dealerships and the ability to support these vehicles, in every state. Existing reservation holders will be able to place their orders tomorrow. Those interested in the LEAF, but who do not have an existing reservation will be able to reserve and order one week later. Deliveries are expected to start taking place by summer. This time frame is much shorter than that experienced by those early adopters in the original seven launch areas. Lead time from order to delivery is likely to be three to six months depending upon how Nissan manages order placement.
Nissan’s first year sales goals were hampered by natural disasters and slower production ramp-up than expected. With the launch of such a significant new product, Nissan slowly and incrementally added production to ensure that high quality was maintained with every single vehicle. Early reports from forum posters that have had the one year battery check performed have shown no degeneration of battery capacity. We would be surprised if anyone did show any degeneration after 12 months. Still this bodes well for those that are just coming into the market and should provide a level of confidence in this new powerplant. With the vehicle being introduced to the rest of the country, we expect demand to pick up and general consumer awareness of electric cars in general to increase.
Nissan reports that there are over 22,000 LEAFs on the road globally. That is about half of what we here at Living LEAF were expecting. The first year US sales goal was right around 20,000 units for calendar 2011. Total capacity is still capped as the only production plant is Oppama, Japan with a claimed capacity of 50,000 units annually. This should be enough to meet early demand from these additional markets. Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant is slated to come online in late 2012 with an ultimate capacity of 150,000 units. We expect initial production to be a fraction of that to assure quality control as production is ramped up.
With the Nissan LEAF having racked up over 30 million miles globally thus far, we expect to have much more real world data to pore over in the not too distant future.