Nissan closed out a three-month/24-city cross-country pre-launch tour for its upcoming LEAF Electric Vehicle (EV) last week in New York City by announcing details about how customers can go about acquiring one of these ground-breaking all-electric sedans. Although the first production versions aren't scheduled to arrive in select markets until this December and roll out nationwide shortly thereafter, anyone can now register for more information about the LEAF at www.NissanUSA.com and receive priority status when it comes to ordering one of the vehicles. To date, Nissan says nearly 50,000 have signed up for a spot on this LEAF "long list."
The official reservation process is due to commence in April, and will require a $100 fully-refundable deposit. Starting in October, Nissan will begin taking orders for the LEAF. At that time, customers can decide to either purchase or lease the vehicle, but in either case, its will be as part of an inclusive "single transaction that includes the battery." Given the somewhat Byzantine state of federal and state laws governing the sale of "complete" new vehicles, don't be surprised to see that that approach serve as a precedent for other manufacturers on their future EVs, Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs) and Plug-ins, as well.
Shortly after Nissan's announcement, Hertz opened the door for yet another, albeit short-term, acquisition possibility. It confirmed that the LEAF -- which is powered by an advanced Lithium-ion battery pack that gives it roughly a 100-mile per-charge range -- would be added to its rental car fleets in select U.S. and European markets starting in early 2011.
For its part, Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas, said the automaker has gone to great lengths to ensure the entire LEAF acquisition process is "effortless, transparent and accessible, offering value with a one-stop-shop approach for everything related to the car, including the assessment, permitting and installation of in-home battery charging units." Now only one key question remains unanswered: Exactly how much will the new LEAF cost? That blank likely won't be completely filled in until sometime in the fall, when equipment and packaging specifics are finalized. However, Nissan has confirmed that it will announce the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the LEAF at least some preliminary guidance on the matter in early April, when the formal reservation process begins.