The 2011 Nissan Leaf has been a runaway success for Nissan, with the Japanese automaker already taking in 14,000 reservations for the cute electric vehicle and order books filled out well into next year. The first Leafs--or is it Leaves?--will hit the streets in December and the big surprise is that the majority of those behind the wheel won’t be Nissan die-hards.

In fact, as much as 90 percent of Leaf owners will be new to Nissan. The information comes from Brian Carolin, Nissan’s senior vice president for sales and marketing in North America, who spoke recently with Automotive News.

To be eligible, potential customers needed to place a $99 deposit but this is fully refundable should the customer decide not to buy the car or their home not able to have a Leaf charging station installed.

It’s understandable that Nissan’s regular customers aren’t the ones lining up to purchase the Leaf. While the majority of Nissan vehicles are aimed at customers that value function and utility over emotional value or style, the Leaf has very different appeals, whether it be environmental concerns, owning the latest technology or simply the newest trend.

In the lead up to its eventual launch, Nissan plans to take the Leaf out on the road, offering test drives in various cities across the country--just as Ford did with its Fiesta. The promotion will entail "tens of thousands" of test drives, Carolin explained.

[Automotive News, sub req’d]