North America Inc. does not expect the highly anticipated debut of its Nissan Leaf all-electric compact sedan will induce price-gouging.
The auto maker announces today the carâ€™s base model will start at $32,780. But a $7,500 federal tax credit available to EV buyers reduces the sticker to $25,280.
In California, an additional $5,000 credit is available, slashing the vehicleâ€™s prices tag in that market to $20,280.
The auto maker will accept reservations from would-be buyers starting April 20, says Brian Carolin, senior vice president-sales and marketing. Orders will be taken in August.
While auto makers are prohibited from restricting vehicle prices, Carolin is confidentâ€™s pricing â€śtransparencyâ€ť will discourage dealers who might see in the Leaf an opportunity to increase their margins.
â€śWith a more structured order-taking process and allocation of vehicles, I think weâ€™re going to minimize the likelihood of that happening,â€ť he tells journalists during a conference call.
Price gouging is not uncommon in the North American market. Particularly for niche vehicles that have aroused the publicâ€™s curiosity.
dealers saw their behavior tied to vehicle allocation when the auto maker introduced the Dodge Challenger SRT8 in 2008.
â€śFor the first couple of years, every Leaf built will be spoken for before it ever gets to a dealership,â€ť says Dan Davids, president of Plug In America, an EV enthusiasts group. â€śThese cars wonâ€™t linger in showrooms. There is huge pent-up demand for electric cars and at this price-point, Nissan might have to accelerate completion of its new Leaf factory in Tennessee.â€ť
Production will be limited to Japan until 2013, when Nissanâ€™s plant in Smyrna is scheduled to tool up to build as many as 150,000 Leaf units annually.
Between now and then, Nissanâ€™s global capacity is limited to 50,000. â€śWe will be fighting for our fair share,â€ť Carolin says, saying about 6,000 units will be available in the U.S. between Decemberâ€™s rollout and March 2011.
The lease price of the vehicle is set at $349 over 36 months after a $1,999 down-payment. The federal tax credit was used to calculate the price, Carolin says.
The base model will feature a standard equipment list that includes a navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity. Optional equipment such as a rear-view monitor and spoiler will bump up the sticker by $940.
Cost of acquiring and installing a home-charging station is pegged at $2,200. But Carolin notes this purchase, too, is eligible for a $2,000 tax credit.
Nissan promises 100 miles (160 km) of range on a single charge. The cost of operation is set at $3 per 100 miles, Carolin says.