Making good on its promise to be the world's first affordable zero-emissions car, the 2011 Nissan LEAF will carry a pricetag of $32,780 -- plus $820 in destination -- on its base SV model. Factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit that goes along with this groundbreaking electric vehicle and the sticker dips to $26,000 -- and that's before any additional state incentives tax rebates which can effectively trim up to another $5,000 off that figure. The base LEAF SV will be an impressively equipped package, including a navigation system, Internet/smart phone connectivity with remote charging/pre-heating and cooling functions, Bluetooth, push-button starting, LED headlamps, stability/traction control, anti-lock regen brakes and six airbags. For an additional $940, the top-line LEAF SL will add a rearview monitor, cargo cover, auto headlamps, fog lights and a solar-panel rear spoiler that charges the conventional 12V battery that powers its supplemental systems.

>2010 New York Auto Show Home

According to numbers crunched by Nissan, the average five-year ownership cost of a new LEAF will be $28,180, including the price of both the in-home charger and electricity needed to keep it running. On the lease front, Nissan will require a $1,999 initial downstroke but leverage the $7,500 federal credit to hold payments to $349 per month on three-year12,000-mile per annum deal. Here, too, that amount could be substantially decreased---to around $260/month -- when state-specific incentives are figured into the formula.

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Obviously, Nissan's projections on the relative cost of gasoline or electricity five years out are subject to the same variations that bedevil Congressional Budget Office guesstimates. However, if they're even close to correct, the automaker says it would make the LEAF more affordable over time than the car's two closest perceived competitors, the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. Interestingly enough, Nissan made no mention of the Chevrolet Volt, although the numbers it released will certainly give GM something to think about when finalizing a price for its upcoming extended-range EV which will hit the market at roughly the same time.

In addition to optimizing purchase subsidies for the LEAF, Nissan is working with two infrastructure providers, AreoVironment and eTec, a division of ECOtality, to facilitate the installation of 220-volt home charging stations. The average costs for the docks and installation will be $2,200, but half of that is eligible for a supplemental federal tax credit. Because the LEAF also is part of the DOE-blessed EV Project, up to 4,700 buyers who live in one of five geographical areas (Nashville/Knoxville/Chattanooga, Tennessee; the I-5 corridor in Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Phoenix/Tuscon, Arizona; and San Diego, California) and meet certain other qualifications, will have their home chargers provides by eTec at no cost.

Nissan says that over 85,000 people have already expressed interest in the LEAF via its website. It plans to open formal registration to that group on April 20th, a process that will require a $99 fully refundable fee to secure a place on an official reservation list. Reserving a LEAF ensures those individuals a place on the formal ordering roster, which Nissan will open in August. The first 2011 Nissan LEAF models are due to go on sale in select markets starting in December with a national rollout phased in during 2011.

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