More than 115,000 Americans have gone on the Internet and registered their interest in the 2011 Nissan Leaf battery electric car, and beginning Tuesday the company will begin trying to move those electronic tire-kickers onto the more select reservation list. The price to get on the waiting list for the first round of cars is $99, which is refundable if you buy a Leaf or opt out of the program.
The timing two days before Earth Day is coincidental, said Mark Perry, a Nissan spokesman. The Leaf will cost $32,780, but there is a $7,500 federal tax credit and various state incentives, including a $5,000 cash rebate in what will undoubtedly be one of the car’s strongest markets, California.
Deliveries of the Leaf will begin in December, Mr. Perry said, with the first cars going to the Seattle/Puget Sound area, Phoenix and Tucson, and the states of Oregon, California and Tennessee. It will soon also be available in the Washington area, Orlando, Houston, Vancouver, and the states of Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and Massachusetts. Getting a car outside these areas may take a while, but the Leaf is scheduled to go national at the end of 2011 (and start United States production in late 2012).
Nissan says it’s encouraged by the volume of online registrations, but it’s far from clear how many people will actually put up money and make Leaf reservations. The company hopes to have 25,000 reserved customers lined up by the car’s introduction at the end of the year. Paying the $99 reservation fee starts a process that includes a home assessment and a written estimate of what it will cost to get your house 220-volt plug-in ready. Mr. Perry said there is a federal tax credit covering 50 percent of such installations (up to $2,000).
An e-mail will go out to registrants Tuesday, leading them through a process that includes paying the reservation fee, getting a confirmation number, choosing a dealer and configuring a car.