Nissan announced this morning that Japanese pre-order sales for its 2011 Leaf electric car have enabled the company to meet its fiscal 2010 domestic sales target before the car even hits the showrooms.

The fully electric hatchback will be sold in Japan later this year at a cost of ¥3.76 million. ($41,000). Japanese customers will be offered a governmental subsidy to bring the price of the Leaf down to ¥2.99 million ($33,000), but even this reduced price only matches the pre-tax credit price for the U.S. specification Leaf.

However, pre-orders for the Leaf have not suffered due to the price tag.  Orders for the Leaf in Japan commenced on April 1 2010 and have been extremely healthy. Even though Nissan has now reached its quota for 6,000 vehicles for the domestic Japanese market, Nissan will continue to take pre-orders for the vehicle.

Nissan LEAF Interior

Nissan LEAF Interior

In May, Nissan U.S.A. announced that it had more than 13,000 reservations for the Leaf and had reached the quota for 2010 sales of the U.S. spec 2011 Leaf models.

According to Nissan, more than sixty percent of the total pre-orders for Japanese sales of the Leaf are from people aged 50 or over, keen to be the first to drive Nissan's first long-term production EV.

The ease of use of an electric car and the expensive ticket price mean that this particular demographic are more likely to buy the Leaf than younger, cash-strapped generations.

Japanese laws requiring a driver to prove he or she has somewhere to park a car off-street at night  may also help skew the purchase demographics, as older buyers are more likely to have a home with off-street parking available.  There are exceptions to these laws, but only for smaller cars like the 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev.

When Toyota launched the 1997 Prius in Japan, a similar demographic formed initial customers. The 1997 Prius came with both alloy wheels and hub-cap covers to protect the wheels from being damaged as frail drivers bumped the kerb parking them.

The 2011 Nissan Leaf will be made in Japan, but domestic production of the U.S. spec Leaf is expected by 2013.  Customers who have already reserved the Leaf in the U.S.A will be able to finalize their orders from August 2010.