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At $33K, Nissan LEAF to Be One of Cheapest Electric Cars

Nissan (s NSANY) announced the sticker price for its upcoming LEAF electric sedan, and at $32,780 (before incentives), it could be one of the cheapest highway-capable electric vehicles on the road in coming years. According to today’s announcement, Nissan also plans to offer an option to lease the vehicle for $349 per month. Nissan’s plans call for the cars to start rolling out in select U.S. markets in December, with national sales slated for next year.

The pricing announced today places the LEAF slightly under the retail prices slated for Mitsuishi’s planned i-MiEV, Coda Automotive’s Coda sedan, and Tesla’s Model S (see: Electric Sedan Smackdown). It’s a fair amount higher, however, than the starting price for the conventional sedan models with which Nissan has said it aims to offer a competitive price.

Although the automaker has kept quiet until now on many specifics, Nissan’s director of product planning for North America, Mark Perry (who will be speaking about the emergence of the new networked car at our Green:Net conference next month) said last summer that pricing for the LEAF would be competitive with the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima — which start at less than $20,000.

As for the leasing, the LEAF’s $349 monthly payment comes in at a fraction of the lease payment for a Tesla Roadster, but on the high end compared to leasing offers available cars like the conventional Civic.

Nissan said late last year that it plans to provide the financing for most or all of the LEAF sedans in its initial rollout, as part of an effort to keep upfront costs down for customers. If Nissan is the one issuing the lease contract, the reasoning goes, then it gets to set the residual value (the car’s projected worth at the end of the lease). In general, while other factors also come into play, the higher the residual value is set — based on more optimistic estimates of long-term vehicle value and potential after-vehicle applications for the battery — the lower the monthly lease payments will be.

Nissan first offered a glimpse of the LEAF’s so-called EV-IT system last summer, including an onboard transmitting unit connected through mobile networks to a global data center, and a plan to let drivers find info about available charging stations and view the driving radius within range of their battery charge level on a navigation map.

Nissan said today that it plans to roll into the base price Internet and smart phone connectivity, “advanced navigation,” remote controls for heating, cooling and charging (elements of an iPhone app Nissan showed off in prototype in July), as well as three years of roadside assistance. It’ll cost you an extra $940, however, to get a model tricked out with a solar panel spoiler, rearview monitor, fog lights and automatic headlights.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Report: IT and Networking Issues for the Electric Vehicle Market

33 Responses to “At $33K, Nissan LEAF to Be One of Cheapest Electric Cars”

  1. Nissan has clear advantages. LEAF is a practical city car which will be manufactured in much higher volumes. Nissan-Renault group is investing heavily in electric cars in Europe too. Renault has just started to manufacture the electric version of a larger sedan, Fluence-ZE in Turkey. Fluence-ZEs are scheduled to be sold at Israel and Denmark in early 2011. Both countries have proviede incentives and infrastructure. Renault has scheduled the electric version of their highly popular light commercial vehicle (Kangoo) and a 2-seater smaller electric city car. Many cities in europe are working on providing incentives and charging stations. I’m sure other estabished brands have much or less similar plans.

    New players are not trying to disrupt the car business. If they just mount electric engines and batteries to the cars we know now, they can not cope with the production capabilities, sourcing, branding, distribution channels of incumbents. They need to disrupt car industry to succeed in the long term.

  2. A good comparison would be to include the cost of the electricity for that 40 miles. How can you figure a savings if you don’t know how much it costs per gallon of gas it saves. If the electricity costs $5.00 to go the 40 miles, then we haven’t saved anything. What is the electric draw so we can really compare. Also, aren’t we still using mostly fossil fuels to make our electricity?? Plug in electrics are a lot of hype. The recharging batteries in the current hybrids would seem to be more cost effective.

  3. Josie, the point we’re trying to make here is that an EV gives you the choice to drive 100% emissions-free. No gas car can come close to that. Further, as an energy consultant, I see residential electrical bills all the time and I can assure you that most Americans waste more kWh in their homes than they would use in an EV.

    So, two things…

    If you are concerned about the pollution from coal generated electricity, you should not be running your home on that dirty electricity. Switch to solar or request to be added to your utility’s renewable energy program. That way, when you get your EV, you’ll be zero pollution well-to-wheels.

    Second, reduce the waste of kWh in your home so you can drive on those kWh. That way, your electricity bill will remain the same, but you’ll eliminate your use of gas.

    We’ve been driving an EV for over 7 years and we generate all of our energy with solar. Even so, whenever I see a light on and no one in the room, I rush to turn it off because I know that I can drive on that energy. If you had a leak in your gas tank, you’d get it fixed, right? Well, if you can drive on electricity, why would you leave a TV on when no one was watching?

  4. Josie as Bob said, EVs are much more efficient than ICEs and this doesn’t include the pollution caused getting the oil from the middle east to my petrol pump.

    My energy supplier gives me the option to have my energy supplied by renewable resources only, such as wind, and solar. Therefore I can be completely pollution free. (excluding Nissan’s own pollution in the creation of the car).

    • Bob, I have to disagree that it’s careless to note that EVs — even if they cause less pollution than ICE vehicles and are an important step toward truly zero emission cars — can still cause pollution if we don’t change the source of our electricity. It would be careless to ignore that.

      Mark, it sounds like you’ll be out in front on this. Good to hear you’ll be able to charge up with energy from renewable sources from Day 1.

  5. Bob Wallace

    Josie, were the Leaf charged with 100% coal produced electricity it would still be less polluting than a comparable ICE car. And coal is now about 46% of our grid supply – and dropping.

    We’re seeing existing coal plants being converted to biomass (sequestered carbon-free) and to natural gas (about half the sequestered CO2 output of coal).

    The Leaf is major progress toward clean personal transportation. It’s an affordable EV with a decent range. And every time a new wind farm or solar field comes on line the Leaf gets cleaner.

    So, yes, EVs are not pollution free because the grid isn’t pollution free. But let’s be careful not to damage this very positive development with a careless post.

  6. This car would save my 10k in 5 years, so on money alone it would benefit me. But the idea of driving a car that causes no pollution, and is silent and cool is just too much to pass by. Well done Nissan, I hope you sell millions!!!