It's hardly a secret that the 2011 Nissan Leaf is one of the most anticipated electric cars this year. Nissan now has over 20,000 customers who have paid $99 to be placed on the waiting list, securing a place in electric car history.
But as with any new car roll-out, those who eagerly sign up for a new car even before it's hit the showrooms are enthusiasts who hear about the vehicle from online fan clubs and press-releases, not dealers.
So with Nissan's electric eco-baby due to be driving around the streets in less than six months, what do Nissan dealers know about the 2011 Leaf?
We asked around at several garages in the U.K., where the Nissan Leaf is due to reach consumers by April 2011. But as we found out, dealers aren't even sure what facts to tell consumers eager to inquire about the Leaf.
Let's look at some of the things local Nissan dealers told us about the Leaf, and some interesting phony facts about other cars.
2011 Nissan Leaf
Not true. The 2011 Nissan Leaf isn't even Nissan's first electric car, although it is Nissan's first long-term production electric vehicle.
As for it being the first ever real electric car, we can only suspect the salesman was being a little... err...enthusiastic.
"The Nissan Leaf isn't like other electric cars like the (Toyota) Prius."
Yes, we know. The 2011 Toyota Prius isn't an electric car. It's a series-parallel hybrid. But according to our sales guy, it was an electric car which used "kinetic energy" to move itself along rather than plugging into a charger.
We were told that the Nissan didn't use kinetic energy to move itself along and instead used a large battery pack.
We're guessing our sales guy flunked physics so kept quiet.
2011 Nissan Leaf
Sorry, sales guy. Wrong again. When used with a fast-charger such as the one just unveiled in Portland, Oregon, it's possible to recharge the Leaf from empty to 80% full in twenty minutes.
That is, unless our salesman knows something we don't.
"The price hasn't been released, but expect it to be really expensive."
Actually, the price has been set, both in the U.S. and the U.K. In case you're wondering, that price is $32,780 and $44,500 before incentives respectively. And in both cases, Nissan made a pretty big song and dance about announcing the pricing. Add purchase incentives and tax breaks, and the price drops to $25,000 in the U.S. and $36,000 in the U.K. Expensive? Yes, but you'll never pay for gas again.
"Don't expect any government grants; They've all been cancelled."
Wrong. Both federal tax credits in the U.S. and purchase grants in the U.K. are still in place for 2010/2011, even in the economic downturn.
Our salesman quite happily told us the grants and tax credits weren't happening any more thanks to tightening of governmental budgets.
"They're not coming here until next Fall."
Apparently, our local dealer was so convinced that the car wasn't coming until next year that he was genuinely surprised anyone was asking about it.
But the very first Nissan Leafs are set to be in owners hands this Fall in the U.S., and by April in Europe. That's much sooner than next Fall.
"We're only selling them because we have to."
This last one is the most telling. According to our friendly salesman, his dealership was only selling the 2011 Leaf because they had to by law. The way he spoke to us about it you could have been forgiven for thinking that he'd been asked to do something far worse than just selling a car.
It's a sad fact that while Nissan's 2011 Leaf is a great car, many of the Nissan dealers out there have yet to be convinced. And they are the daily face of Nissan.
How does your Nissan dealer feel about the Leaf? We'd love to know.