Well, the gauntlet is down.
This morning, Nissan announced a price of $32,780 for the Leaf, a price that no doubt sent shivers down the spines of Toyota and Honda, not to mention GM execs. They now have to compete at a much lower price point if they want to play the game in which Nissan is writing the rules.
Keeping in mind the federal tax credit of $7,500, the price drops to a very affordable $25,280. Then, to top it off, several states throw in inducements of their own with CA providing an additional $5,000 rebate. We now have a base price of a mere $20,280, and the damn thing runs on sunlight!
It surprised me that Nissan was willing to divulge the price so early, but given the storm of interest the announcement has created, it was clearly a good idea.
Nissan won't be able to keep up with demand for at least the first two years. Word-of-mouth will be unlike any consumer product since the iPod. When each happy customer brings a Leaf home to display in their driveway, all their neighbors, family and friends will be clamoring for rides, and once given, they'll be sold that electric drive is the way to go.
This is not to say other plug-in vehicles won't sell just as well (we want you ALL to succeed), but Nissan will certainly grab the low hanging fruit that's been ripening for a long time. I imagine the Volt will do well, too, but we need to see their price before predicting much.
The federal tax credits are good for the first 200,000 units from each manufacturer. California's rebates only total $4.1 million, so they'll go fast, although there's a decent chance we'll add more to the kitty next year.
Other states offer incentives, too. See Plug In America's compilation here.
To get in line for a Leaf, you need to go to their website starting 4/20 through 5/15 and register by putting down a $99 fully refundable deposit. That gets you in line. Some time in August, you'll actually get to tell Nissan what goodies you want on the car and place your order. Deliveries to selected markets start in December and roll out across the country in 2011 and globally in 2012.
It is confirmed that you'll have the choice of buying the car or leasing, although the trial balloon of buying the car and leasing the battery is no longer on the table.
A $2,200 charging station will be installed and 50% of that is returned as an additional federal tax credit.
Nissan's willingness to lock in the price at such an early date has made the wait for the car easier in a way. With the benchmark made real, we can all plan for the day when the Leaf, or some other plug-in car, is ours to keep.
Old Walt here has turned into a grumpy puppy waiting for his owner to get an EV. Pretty soon, I hope to see him smile again:~)