Nissan To Deliver Only 5 Leafs In 2010, More Delays Imminent?

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Uh-oh, Nissan. There’s been word a-brewing on car forums for that the carmaker is experiencing delays in delivering the much-anticipated all-electric Leaf, which is slated to start arriving next month.

But only five Leafs will arrive in the U.S. next month — one for each of the five states the Leaf is initially launching in, according to Ray Ishak, fleet sales manager at the Campbell Nelson Nissan dealership in Seattle. VentureBeat first reported in September that the initial rollout would be just 200 cars — a small delivery to begin with, especially considering that only five states will see the Leaf in the initial launch.

“Nissan is saying there will only be one car per state for December delivery so they can just keep face and (live up to) their original statement of December delivery,” Ishak said.

It appears that Nissan has recently changed promised delivery dates, making dealers nervous. First, it pushed back the delivery of demo cars until at least March, Ishak said — initially, one “demo” Leaf was promised to each dealer by December, to be used for test drives. Nissan also recently balked at a request to deliver 25 Leafs to the city of Seattle by May 1, telling Ishak the best it could do would be five cars by the city’s hoped-for delivery date. Cars that were initially scheduled for December delivery were pushed back to January, and Ishak says he currently doesn’t see any cars in queue for December production.

“If you want … your customers to get car a sooner [rather] than later, don’t order silver,” Ishak recalled the Leaf’s operations manager advising Nissan dealers. Evidently there’s a big backlog on that color.

Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary declined to give numbers on December deliveries. However, she told us in an email: “The reports regarding December deliveries to consumers are speculative. In order to prioritize our first consumers, we have shifted back the delivery of our dealer demos. Consumers in all of our launch markets instead are getting the opportunity to test drive the Nissan LEAF on the Drive Electric Tour.”

The changes have been enough to worry dealers and hopeful buyers alike, some of whom vent on the popular forum. Ishak and others have suggested that the carmaker may be intentionally scaling back supply, perhaps because the Leaf will sell for a higher price in Japan ($45,000 compared to about $33,000 in the U.S.), or to take advantage of favorable exchange rates.

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