Nissan to Accelerate Leaf Deliveries to U.S., Reopen Reservations

Deliveries of the all-electric Nissan Leaf have gotten off to a slow start: According to Automotive News, just 500 have been delivered to U.S. customers since December 2010. That will soon change as Nissan plans to ramp up deliveries and cut customer waiting times.

Shipments of the Leaf from Japan to the U.S. were delayed by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, but the first post-quake shipment of the Leaf, with 127 cars, is expected to arrive here April 27. “Deliveries are about to grow from the few hundreds, to the many thousands,” Nissan Chairman Carlos Tavares said yesterday at the New York auto show. He said everyone who has ordered a Leaf, “can expect it in their driveways by this summer.”

The company will also re-open the waiting list for the Leaf; it closed in September 2010 after all 20,000 of the Leafs available in its first year were spoken for. Only buyers in the launch markets of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington are eligible to sign up. Availability of the Leaf should expand across the southeastern U.S. this fall and cover the entire country by 2012.

According to Automotive News, the slow roll-out is due in part to the car’s dependence on a new battery facility in Japan. The factory in Oppama, Japan that assembles the Leaf is now operating at 100-percent capacity, following slowdowns in the wake of the earthquake.

Nissan also revealed a bit about the habits of Leaf drivers, with data culled from the cars’ onboard computers. Collectively, they’ve covered about 400,000 miles so far. The average Leaf owner drives 7 miles per trip and charges the car for just over two hours each time. Not surprisingly, owners tend to be wealthy, with excellent credit histories and incomes in the top 15-percent of all Americans.

Sources: Automotive News, Nissan

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