Like many customers in the U.S., our own Marty Padgett got to reserve his 2011 Nissan LEAF in April last year. And now, like so many of the expectant 20,000 who have signed up for a place in the queue to buy NIssan’s first mass-produced electric car, he’s been saddled with an uncomfortable wait before his car arrives.
As Marty eagerly awaits news of how and when he’ll be able to finalize his order for his red Nissan LEAF I’ve had a much different experience. What’s more, I’m not the only one.
The difference? I’m in a different country: the U.K.
Strangely, I wasn’t able to even place myself on a waiting list until September. When I did, it wasn’t a $99 reservation. It was a $400 reservation.
Skip forward a few months and I was notified in early January that the U.K. Nissan LEAF tour would soon be visiting my area. Unlike the U.S., the U.K. LEAF will be available at 25 selected Nissan dealers nationwide.
Nissan LEAFs arrive in the U.K.
Thanks to the size of the U.K., that translates to 95% of the population living within 100 miles of a Nissan LEAF dealer.
In much the same way as the U.S. LEAF tour, a team of specialised LEAF salespeople visited participating dealerships. But instead of many cars, only two toured. One in the showroom, and one to drive around.
At the end of each test-drive, customers were invited to finalize their order. Those who acted fast in September can look forward to a delivery within a few months. Anyone ordering today however, will have to put up with a wait of nearly a year.
All of the 500 LEAFs earmarked to be sold this year are already spoken for.
Not only that, but the first 67 LEAFs arrived in the U.K. last week. Destined for customers in the U.K. and Ireland, they will be sold from March 1 to eager customers.
As one of the very first names on the list, I hope my LEAF is among them. In the U.K., only one trim level is offered for the LEAF. Roughly equivilant to the SL, it comes as standard with rear-view camera and fast charge port.
2011 Nissan Leaf Front
Onto customer satisfaction. Browse through U.K. based LEAF forums, and you’ll notice a whole lot less worry about order times. You’ll also find a lot less frustration with Nissan.
That’s due in part to a lot more transparency and a much smaller pre-order list, but in a week where NIssan North America have admitted the LEAF rollout could have been handled better, perhaps the U.K. is the place to look for a more informed approach.
Sure, I had to pay more for a reservation, and the car will cost a massive $40,000 after government incentives, but at least it looks as if Nissan Europe has learnt from NIssan North America's mistakes.