Interest in, and "pre-orders" for, the Nissan Leaf remains high, but a report from the Japanese newspaper the Mainichi Shimbun might put a damper on things. Apparently, the price for the all-electric car in Japan will be somewhere between 3.5 million and 4 million yen, which is about $38,667 to $44,191 U.S. at today's exchange rates. Granted, even if these prices are accurate, they certainly don't automatically equal the MSRP for the U.S. market, but they are higher than what we've been expecting – i.e., under $30,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. We went and looked at the prices for a couple of other cars in Japan, to see how the Leaf's 3.5 million compares. The Toyota Prius runs between 2.0 and 3.27 million yen ($22k–36k USD). The Honda Insight? From 1.89 to 2.2 million ($21k-24.4k USD).
We suspect that Nissan's going to have to do better than this to beat the Chevrolet Volt. Yes, yes, we know the powertrains are quite different, but a lot of people are going to learn about these cars at the same time (late this year), and we believe that the pure electric will need to be quite a bit cheaper than the plug-in hybrid to hold its own.
Of course, all of these numbers should be taken with several grains of salt. We reached out to Nissan, and they reminded us that "the article out of Japan is speculative, and we have no comment. As you know, we have yet to disclose Nissan Leaf pricing in the U.S. or in any global market." Thanks to Scott W. for the tip!