It’s official. Nissan is planning to sell its new all-electric LEAF (Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) electric car in Japan for around 3.5 -4 million Yen, which equates to around $44,300, according to the Mainichi Shimbun on Wednesday.
There’s no exact date set for release, but Nissan says it will launch the car in Japan, Europe and the U.S. in the second half of this year. Nissan’s LEAF will be cheaper than Mitsubishi’s MiEV electric car, which is priced at around Y4.6 million ($51,000 USD) according to the same report.
Unlike the Mitsubishi, when you buy the LEAF you don’t buy the batteries: You have to lease them from Nissan for a set monthly lease fee. The total battery cost has been estimated at around $10,000 USD by BusinessWeek, and Nissan have admitted they would charge the consumer somewhere around $150 USD per month to lease.
Nissan are taking a risk with this approach as it’s more than some motorists pay in fuel. It could affect sales by those motorists looking to cut fuel costs. Also, considering the average length of new vehicle ownership in the USA is around 6 years, the average motorist could expect to pay $10,800 USD during that period for the LEAF’s leased battery.
After watching what can happen with leasing in the motoring world (the EV1 springs to mind) I’m wary of battery leasing. This is because ultimately the car’s still at the mercy of Nissan. They’re within their rights to change pricing and/or recall battery packs as they please.
This means your new LEAF could easily become the next EV1 – the only difference being that while your LEAF won’t be crushed, it’s battery certainly could be; leaving your shiny new electric car sitting dead on your driveway.