Nissan to Catch Up on 2011 Leaf Orders by the End of the Summer

Nissan might have put its Leaf electric vehicle into production late last year, but it’s far from being truly mass produced right now, causing the automaker to fall behind on deliveries. However, according to Nissan’s vice president of U.S. sales, all of its U.S. customers registered to buy a 2011 Leaf electric vehicle will take delivery by the end of the summer.

Nissan initially began taking Leaf EV orders last September, requiring potential customers to put down a $99 deposit in order to insure their place on the reservation list. In total, some 20,000 consumers plunked down money for a Leaf, but only around 8000 of those actually bought one. So far, Nissan has delivered a total of 106 Leaf EVs since deliveries began in December but has assured the wait-listed U.S. customers that they will have their Leaf EVs by the end of summer.

We’re now in the process of ramping up [production],” Brian Carolin, Nissan’s VP of U.S. sales, told Reuters. “Production is going to be picking up in March and April, so we’re pretty confident we are going to satisfy all of the orders we are going to get by the end of summer.”

Those orders will all come from the 20,000 initial pre-orders as Nissan has closed off the order process. Once those orders are filled however, a similar wait-list process will be opened.

Part of the reason for the backlog of U.S. orders is Nissan’s priority on domestic deliveries. In total, Nissan has delivered 981 electric vehicles in its home country. The reason for the selective deliveries is a government-provided subsidy on electric vehicles, which expires at the end of Japan’s 2010 fiscal year, in March 2011.

Currently, the only source for Nissan’s Leaf is its Oppama plant in Japan. Nissan says that at full tilt, this plant is capable of producing 48,000 Leafs (Leaves?) per year and that capacity will be reached by this March. Nissan is however, currently building a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee that will be capable of building roughly 150,000 Leaf EVs per year. That plant however, won’t be operational until late 2012.

Source: Reuters, Mainichi Daily News

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