2011 Nissan Leaf: We Order Ours, And Show You How

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2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

When the 2011 Nissan Leaf goes on sale later this year, a lucky handful of buyers in eight areas around the country will be among the first to own and drive the first mass-market electric car sold by an automaker in the modern era.

I'm hoping I'll be one of them. As of a few moments ago, I'm in the queue to own a 2011 Nissan Leaf.

About two weeks ago, I decided to join the electric-car era and sign up to buy a 2011 Leaf--not because of any political leanings, or great concern for the environment. I'm a gadget freak, and what better gadget to complement my army of rechargeable devices, than a rechargeable car?

The economics seem to make sense, too. After a hefty $7500 federal tax credit, the Leaf's base price sits right around $25,000. Even better, my home state of Georgia is one of two places (California as well) that will offer more incentives: here, it's an additional $5000 tax credit for buying the electric Leaf, plus a $2200 credit for small businesses installing the required charging system. I could end up owning a Leaf for less than $20,000 net.

But first, I have to claw my way to the front of the line, and that process started with a $99 reservation made today via Nissan's Web site. In my experience--filling out the forms online while flying home from a press event--Nissan is making it easy to sign up for the Leaf.

When I raised my hand for the Leaf via the Nissan site, I got an account and a chance to make the reservation--the login's the wristband that gets you the best concert seats, I guess. On Sunday, via email, Nissan told us Leafheads it would open reservations today.

Originally, Nissan had planned reservations for 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time today. At about 5 p.m., I still hadn't received my email, though--so I turned to their Twitter feed, @Nissan EVs, for more information. At about 5 p.m., @NissanEVs announced the reservations window would be held open until 9 p.m. due to strong interest. Finally, I received the email invitation above at 7:37 p.m.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

In about five minutes, I'd filled out all the information I needed to spec out my Leaf and lay down my $99 deposit. A video clip walks newbies through the process; I dove right in on my iPad first, switching over to the laptop when I realized I'd want these fancy screen shots.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

It's pretty basic - just another login to expand on my basic information and to opt in (or out) of what no doubt will be a whole tree's worth of Leaf emails and other communications in the coming months.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

Then came the fun stuff: choosing my color, trim and equipment. What could be a lengthy experience on a MINI Cooper is a two-step process on the Leaf. There's a choice of five colors...

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

...and since I haven't had a red car since my 1990 Mazda Miata, I chose red.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

Then, since I don't need a rearview camera, cargo cover or other fancy stuff, I chose the basic Leaf--which still comes with satellite-radio hardware, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

A few more questions are used to vet potential buyers. Basically, Nissan wants to know how far you'll drive, and how often. Since I work from home and don't drive far on daily errands, it turns out, I'm a prime candidate to own a Leaf.

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

2011 Nissan Leaf ordering process

And that's about it. I filled out a form to pay the $99 reservation fee (fully refundable, Nissan says)--but hit a snag when I tried to use an American Express card. The form requires a 16-digit card number--and the American Express card has 15 digits. So I opted for another card and it went through right away.

By June 30, Nissan says it'll be back in touch to tell me how long I might have to wait to get a Leaf of my own. California, Washington and Tennessee are some of the first places they'll sell vehicles--but Atlanta's been a part of their nationwide Leaf tour. And with generous tax credits, there could be a big groundswell of interest in the Empire State of the South that Nissan will want to tap.

No one knows how the Leaf will sell, but AllCarsElectric will know firsthand what it's like to own a Leaf. Next up, we'll tell you what the tax man thinks of the Leaf deal.

 
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