Nissan drew a line in the sand today, announcing a $32,780 suggested retail price for its forthcoming Leaf. Expected to launch in limited numbers in December, the all-electric Leaf should be eligible for a $7,500 Federal tax credit, bringing its actual cost to just $25,280. This positions the Leaf in the same ballpark as Toyota's Prius hybrid, the most popular "green machine" on the road today. If filling out IRS Form 8936 seems like too much of hassle, Nissan will also offer a leasing program where they'll take the tax credit themselves, leaving the customer with a base three-year contract running $349 per month after a $1,995 down-payment.
Leaf owners will also need to purchase a 220-volt home charging station, which Nissan estimates will cost $2,200 on average, including installation. "Fill ups" of electricity will cost owners about $3 according to Nissan, although that will vary greatly on the area of the country as well as the time of the recharge. Up to 4,700 Leaf owners could receive free charging equipment, however, as part of The EV Project, a U.S. Department of Energy grant program. Federal tax credits for the charging equipment will also be available.
Other tax incentives could further reduce the price of the Leaf, according to Nissan officials who cite local programs in California, Georgia and Oregon. Georgia owners stand out as having the greatest incentives on their side: In addition to the aforementioned $7,500 Federal tax credit, state credits for an additional $5,000 will mean the Leaf will ring in at about $20,000 within the Peach State.
Expecting interest in the vehicle to be high, Nissan will begin taking reservations on April 20 on NissanUSA.com. A refundable $99 deposit gets you a place on the list, with actual orders scheduled for August. Customers in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington will begin taking delivery as early as December, while the rest of the country has to wait until 2011. Nissan says it will be able to produce 50,000 Leafs in the first model year, to be shared among its global markets. That number could increase in 2012, as plans call for production expanding from Japan to both the United States and Great Britain.
Nissan claims the lithium-ion battery pack in the Leaf should provide a range of over 100 miles, with a charging time of less than eight hours.