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Speaking at the U.S. launch of the Nissan Leaf this morning in Dodgertown, Los Angeles, Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn was supremely confident and optimistic about the chances of his company's first electric vehicle – and plug-ins in general – in the U.S. market.
"This car should sell without advertising," Ghosn said, noting that Nissan's plan to sell a normal-looking (mostly), family-style vehicle with the "free premium" of an electric drivetrain will be an easy sell. Because the Leaf's batteries will be leased, Ghosn said, the Leaf will cost almost exactly the same as a similar gasoline-powered vehicle (it'll be one to two percent higher, without factoring in the cost of the battteries). For someone who drives between 12,000 and 15,000 miles a year, buying the Leaf and leasing the battery will be cheaper than owning a similar gas-powered car and filling up with liquid fuel. Using the "free premium" strategy, Ghosn said, the U.S. can easily reach and then beat President Obama's goal of having a million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015.

Another bonus of leasing the battery, Ghosn said, is that the consumer won't have to worry about when to replace or upgrade it. Nissan will make that decision for the user, simplifying what it means to own an electric car. Nissan has publicly stated that they expect 10 percent of all cars sold in 2020 will be plug-ins, a number some criticized as too optimistic. But Ghosn said that Nissan's internal polling shows that even today, before most people have driven an EV, eight percent of Americans say they want their next car to be an EV. This gives Ghosn confidence that the 10 percent number is probably too low – and doesn't even account for possible dramatic political or social changes (wars, huge spikes in the price of oil, etc.). The question might not be if Nissan can drum up enough interest in the Leaf, but if they can produce enough to meet demand.

We'll have a full report about the launch – and what it's like to drive the Leaf – up shortly.

Our travel and lodging for this media event were paid for by the manufacturer.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Here's hoping that when the leaf goes fully national they will have the option to purchase batteries. I hate payments and usually pay off my cars in under a year. A lease on batteries just seems like another way for them to sneak in a profit center without showing the real cost of what you're leasing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ray, can you give some details for your converted Yaris:

        Price paid for the Yaris, model year?
        Cost of conversion?
        Battery chemistry?
        Performance specs?

        Thanks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree no lease. From what I heard it was suppose to be a $30,000 vehicle, batteries included. I have already driven the Leaf mule. It is much more refined than my converted Yaris but I do own the batteries wich have a 120 mile range and I will be happy to continue driving it when the batteries only have 70 mile range 10 years from now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Our travel and lodging for this media event were paid for by the manufacturer."

      You guys better show us some videos or there's gonna be a riot here ;). Wow, what a cool time to be alive. I wonder what a Leaf looks like in black with some aero aftermarket additions...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nissan could be having a deal with utilities/recyclers that buy up all batteries so subsidize a good portion of the battery. It could really help make EVs more economically - but is the quoted figure of 23k with the EV tax rebate?
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is no way, period that I would lease batteries. they need to be included in the price and warrantied to last as long as the car does. I'm glad electric is coming along, but until i can go 300+ miles, recharge in five minutes, and be able to buy it for about 14K, then I'll stick with my gasoline powered car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        300 Miles? You currently drive that each way to work - each day? Wow - you are dedicated! Or - you just don't like to go home after a days work, but tool around cruisin' the Boulevards!

        Recharge in 5 minutes? You really don't like to stay long at home when you do get their, I guess!

        But really - I have about $7 into my EV with Upholstery, Bodywork, Batteries, Instruments, replacement parts (there were some cut up and melted trip parts in the car, and I got another carpet for the floor), a trailer hitch on the old station wagon, that I used once - to tow the EV to the Scales to weigh it!, and a few other things like 9 battery chargers for 12V Batteries - so each battery get's it's own charger, power monitoring items, battery testers, etc. But - with another $5700 I can get the range up to about 100 Km, and likely more, but I am being moderate about it - using the 160 Ah TS cells - if they fit, making a 16 kWh pack, and 80% of that gives about 100 kms range per my current freeway driving data (but It might go farther, to be seen), and formy needs - I only need that range about 3 X a month, generally I only need 5 - 10 Kms per day, and a couple times a month about 50 Kms. So most cycles will be aobut 5-10% drain, maining - I will see more than 5000 cycles, and the car will rust out first!
        http://nogas96volts.blogspot.com/2009/11/first-whitepaper-posted-by.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      Guys, I think the battery lease idea is a good one. If NISSAN sweetens the deal by adding in a warranty for the duration of the lease... it would take away the uncertainty associated with batteries.. who wants to own something you have to throw away..... for certain when it wears out... and wear out they will!!. Let NISSAN own the things and take em back when it all over.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Guys, I think the battery lease idea is a good one. If NISSAN sweetens the deal by adding in a warranty for the duration of the lease.."

        I doubt the battery would be exempt from the warranty, especially since he said they'll take care of any replacements and upgrades.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The used batteries can be used for storage on the grid. Even at half strength they would be able to hold 17.5 KWh. I could use the old batteries as a dump charge for the new pack in my EV since there is no access to 3-phase charge wiring to my house. I could dump 70 miles worth of range in my EV in 5-15 minutes and have the old battery pack recharged during a valley on the grid instead of a peak. Old batteries will help load level the grid. Yea for old lithium ion batteries!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Along with many others, I am excited about the prospect of affordable, highway speed production EVs becoming commonplace. However, I could never see myself purchasing a vehicle and leasing an integral part of it. In my mind if the battery is leased, it is no more palatable than leasing the whole car.

      I want to purchase the car, battery and all. I realize that the battery will degrade in performance and value over time, but so will much of the rest of the car. I want to be the one who will choose when the battery will be replaced and what battery will replace it. I can set aside that "battery lease" money each month in order to save up for the day when the battery will need to be replaced.

      In addition, leasing the battery brings up too many bad memories about the EV1, RAV4 EV, and so forth. If I don't own a necessary part of the vehicle to make it run, I feel just as vulnerable to having the car permanently recalled as owners of the first round of leased production EVs did.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think their point is that consumers can look at the battery lease as part of the fuel cost, making the overall cost of the EV comparable (or perhaps better than) an internal combustion car. In other words, since electricity is so much cheaper than gas, they can claim that the price of charging plus the price of the battery lease is still less than you've been paying for gas. This makes the EV price-competitive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How does one repossess a battery pack from an owned car if someone falls back on lease payment?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Eh, Batteries have useful capacities after your so called '1000' cycles.. the volt's 40miles is guarenteed up to 150,000 miles or 10 years. After that the battery can still hold charge and it will still have a value Eric.

      I don't know the specifics but I don't think 1/4 value is unrealistic. It does add something to the economics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM is actually selling you a 16 kWh pack - but only letting you use 50% of it, that is why they can - in the future -with ust a sofware code change, bump that up to 60% or 70% once they think that will be safe to do - and make the cars (likly new ones) go 50 - 60 miles on the same battery pack.

      Lithium Iron Phosphate cells like the A123 systems 26650M1's go 1000 Cycles at 100% Discharge - each cycle, and 100% Charged. ThunderSky rates their cells at 3000 Cycles for 80% Depth of Discharge (That's each and every cycle) or DOD, but - at 70% DOD - they rate them at 5000 Cycles! They also say - that at 100% DOD Cycles - they get 1000 of them too!

      Tesla Techs discovered - charging their cells to just 95% gives them far more life than charging all the way to 100%, and - more importantly - only charging to 90% or 85% does not inherantly extend their life by a relative further advantage!

      http://nogas96volts.blogspot.com/2009/11/first-whitepaper-posted-by.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      We'll see.

      Rationally it wouldn't be my choice for transportation. That's probably why it will sell :-)

      And turn out to be the wrong route to go, if cost effective CO2 emission reduction is the goal :-(
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just because the batteries are warrentied for 10 years doesn't mean they'll last that long:

      http://gm-volt.com/2008/09/03/lutz-each-volt-factors-in-the-cost-of-a-battery-replacement/

      Essentially when you buy a Volt, you are paying for two battery packs at least. Hopefully this helps clarify why "owning" a battery pack is not an interesting opportunity--they just don't last very long. Really Volt is leasing you "fresh battery service" for 10 years too, just like Nissan, except that they're making you pay for it all up front. I'm sure Nissan will be delighted to accept an up front payment for 10 years too if you like; alternatively, you could put that pile of cash in a bank account, where it could earn interest, and set up automatic bill pay to send the bill to Nissan so you don't have to think about it. Just as easy...except you aren't locked into a 10-year term and YOU earn bank interest all that time instead of GM. And you don't have to worry about being stuck with an otherwise perfectly reasonable 10.1-year-old car where you either have to sink $10,000 into it or junk it cuz the battery is dead!

      Seems a lot easier than going to the gas station every week too.
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