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Nissan expects 20,000 initial orders for Leaf EV

Tue, 29 Sep 2009

Nissan North America will begin taking sales orders for its new Nissan Leaf electric vehicle next spring and expects to have 20,000 of them pre-sold by the time the model reaches U.S. showrooms in the third quarter.

“We are confident we will have 20,000 reservations for the Leaf by the time it goes on sale,” Carlos Tavares, Nissan's chairman for the Americas, said Tuesday.

Speaking to a breakfast meeting of Nashville business executives, Tavares said Nissan expects to make the city a key launch market for the mass-production five-passenger electric vehicle and is counting on local utilities to have the necessary recharging network in place for next year's launch.

Nissan's North American sales and marketing headquarters is just outside Nashville in Franklin, Tenn. The automaker has created a partnership with the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority to build a recharging grid that links Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn.

Nissan has created similar partnerships with governments and utility companies in several other markets, including San Diego, Phoenix and Seattle.

Tavares invited his audience to consider purchasing commercial fleets of Leafs for their businesses and to invest in their own recharging systems to encourage employees to drive the zero-emission car to work.

“Tennessee will be a critical place with the largest electrical recharging infrastructure anywhere,” he said.

Nissan is investing $2 billion in its Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing complex to produce 150,000 Leafs a year and 200,000 lithium ion batteries, starting in late 2012.

The Leaf will be imported from Japan starting in 2010. The imports eventually will be replaced by production from Smyrna.

By Lindsay Chappell- Automotive News