Nissan will sell its battery-powered LEAF for a base price of USD$32,780 (AUD$35,750) in the United States. Combined with a federal tax credit of USD$7500 (AUD$8180), the LEAF will become an even more realistic proposition and is even open to further state and local government credits when the order books open on April 20.
In Japan, the LEAF hatchback will go on sale for 3.76 million yen (AUD$44,330) and will also attract government subsidies to cut the cost to consumers. After tax credits, the LEAF is expected to sell for 2.99 million yen (AUD$35,310). Nissan will begin taking orders in Japan from today with initial customer delivers slated for early December.
Nissan aims to sell 6000 examples of its first mass-volume EV by March next year and says that by 2020, it expects 10 per cent of all cars sold globally to be electrically powered.
But some analysts say that figure is optimistic, and are unsure of the LEAF's future success given the premium price its lithium-ion batteries add over similar sized, petrol-powered rivals, or petrol-electric hybrids. As an example, the Toyota Prius sells for just over 2 million yen (AUD$24,210) in Japan.
The added costs associated with developing and producing EV's lithium-ion battery pack, which in LEAF's case is co-developed with NEC, is considered a major stumbling block in the widespread introduction of fully electric vehicles.
Nissan's five-seat LEAF has a range of approximately 160 kilometres and can be charged overnight via a standard domestic power outlet. The electric motor develops 80kW of power and 280Nm of torque enabling a top speed of 140km/h.
Nissan anticipate that LEAF will be available in Australia from early 2012.