Nissan's all-electric Leaf challenges GM Volt and Toyota Prius
With a federal tax credit and state rebates, the price for Nissan's zero-emission, all-electric Leaf could be just above $20,000. Fully charged, it'll go 100 miles.
Nissan's announcement Tuesday of a price for its new Leaf – the first mass-produced, all-electric battery-powered vehicle – is sending ripples through online consumers who've been waiting for it, and through the auto industry, too.Skip to next paragraph
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As recently as December, the buzz among auto analysts and the outcome of several battery-cost studies pointed to a plug-in vehicle that would just be too pricey for the average auto buyer. But now it seems likely that the Nissan vehicles will sell for less than $30,000 – a critical price point if President Obama's goal of 1 million plug-ins on the road by 2015 is to be met.
"When I heard the price, I was ecstatic because I knew it would mean Nissan is going to sell a lot of these, and that's going to help our country," says Paul Scott, vice president of Plug In America, an advocacy group that tracks vehicle development. "We think word-of-mouth on this car is going to be better than any consumer product since the iPod."
Tax breaks bring down price
Nissan said the suggested price will be $32,780 for its little five-seat Leaf, which will go 100 miles on a charge. A federal tax credit of $7,500 will bring the cost down to $25,280 – in line with the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. In some states like Georgia and California, which enjoy an added $5,000 state rebate, the cost to the buyer will land just above $20,000.
"We've already got 187 people on our waiting list," exults Jim Bone, sales manager of Nissan of Santa Rosa in California. "I was thrilled with the price. It means a lot of people will be wanting this car."
Customers who buy a Leaf can charge it overnight in their garages on a standard 110-volt outlet. Or, for $2,200, they can purchase a 220-volt charging dock that would cut the charge time to four or five hours. A tax rebate would cover half the cost of the charge station, up to $2,000. So, with the charging station, the Leaf would cost $26,480.