After recently announcing pricing at the 2010 New York Auto Show , it didn't take long for Nissan's aggressive value-pricing decision on its upcoming LEAF electric vehicle to start yielding tangible market benefits. According to Nissan's Katherine Zachary, who handles PR for the car in North America, 6,635 interested parties had put up the $99 refundable deposit to get on the reservation list during the first three days that the early order process was open -- and 2,700 of those folks did so in the first three hours of online action at the company's dedicated LEAF website. For the record, that total is roughly 13 percent of the estimated 50,000 LEAF units that Nissan is gearing up to produce here in year one.
Set to retail at $33,600 before a $7,500 federal tax credit -- or lease for $349 a month -- when it hits the showroom in December, the LEAF is finding its greatest initial favor with would-be owners in California and Georgia. Hardly surprising, as both states feature prominently in Nissan's announced staged roll-out program and will offer additional tax breaks that can drive the effective purchase price even below its $26,100 post-federal-rebate figure. In addition to its bi-coastal bias, the emerging LEAF-lovers contingent has evidenced strong support in the rest of the Sunbelt.
According to Zachary, these early reservees are opting for the upline LEAF SL model -- which costs $940 more than the base SV but brings 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 -- by about a 3:1 margin. On a related note, Nissan also reported that LEAF orders in Japan have also gotten off to a brisk and very encouraging pace. The company has banked more than 3,700 reservations during the first three weeks the process has been open there, that's over 60 percent of the first-year production total originally slated for the home market.