Nissan just wrapped up a three-month nationwide tour of 24 potential early launch markets for its 2011 Leaf electric car.
Now, it has explained how interested buyers can place an advance reservation to purchase a Leaf when it goes on sale at the end of the year.
First, everyone has to register on the Nissan Leaf website and sign up to receive information. Thus far, Nissan said, almost 50,000 people have signed up.
2011 Nissan LEAF prototypeEnlarge Photo
Nissan LEAF Charging PortEnlarge Photo
$100 to reserve
Then, in early April, Nissan will announce the final pricing for the 2011 Leaf and start taking reservations, accompanied by a (refundable) $100 payment.
Firm orders can be placed starting sometime in August, with deliveries starting in December for certain markets and a phased rollout to all launch markets in the following months. Nissan says the vehicles will be available "quickly thereafter."
Nissan has said it hopes to obtain 20,000 advance orders for the Leaf by the end of this year.
$1.4 billion for Tennessee
Nissan also announced the closing of its low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. Back in June, Nissan had been awarded $1.6 billion for renovations to its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, to build both the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the lithium-ion cells for its battery.
As it turned out, Nissan said it would only need to use $1.4 billion of the loans. Work on the factory will start in May.
Leaf buyers will need to have home charging stations, and Nissan recently announced an agreement with AeroVironment to provide "one-stop shopping" to buy the equipment and have it installed.
Tracking real-world usage
Early Leaf owners will be provided a mix of 220-Volt and fast-charge equipment, and Nissan will track their usage to obtain real-world data on how drivers actually use the electric vehicle, which has a stated range of 100 miles.
A full recharge of its 24-kilowatt-hour battery pack takes up to eight hours with 220-Volt current, used in U.S. for electric stoves and clothes driers, and far longer on standard 110-Volt wall power.
Hertz also announced that it would offer Nissan Leaf models for rental in selected markets in the U.S. and Europe, starting next year.
First of four
The 2011 Leaf is the first of four electric vehicles Nissan will offer, making that company the most aggressive automaker in the field of pure electric vehicles. It will compete with the 2011 Coda Sedan, a compact Chinese-built four-door sedan that also offers a 100-mile range.
Other automakers planning to launch plug-in electric cars will use a combination of smaller battery packs and gasoline engines to alleviate driver concerns over "range anxiety".
The most notable contenders in this group are the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the 2011 Fisker Karma, and the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.