Nissan Motor plans to lease electric vehicles batteries

Nissan to sell electric car for less than $44,300. Nissan’s Leaf will be cheaper than Mitsubishi Motor Corp.’s (7211.TO) i-MiEV electric model, which is priced at around Y4.6 million.

Leases will account for the vast majority of lithium ion batteries for electric cars such as Nissan’s Leaf, Jonathan Dixon, the Yokohama, Japan-based company’s business-development manager, said in an interview.

Nissan, Japan’s third-largest automaker, plans to deliver the first electric car Leaf hatchbacks late this year.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most expensive component of electric cars, at about $1,000 a kilowatt hour, and most such electric vehicles will have capacity of about 20 kilowatt hours, according to General Motors Co. vice chairman Robert Lutz. Leasing will let customers avoid the batteries depreciating value and disposal or resale, Dixon said.

Carmakers including Nissan, GM and Toyota Motor Corp. are preparing electric cars in response to higher oil prices, government rules on auto emissions and concerns that such emissions contribute to climate change.

Nissan’s North American unit decided against battery-pack leases for the Leaf in the United States. "The battery and electric car will be transacted together," said Katherine Zachary, a spokeswoman for Nissan North America in Franklin, Tennessee.

"If customers lease the electric car, they’ll have only one monthly payment, and if they buy it, they’ll only have one payment. We do expect more people to lease than buy."

Leaf production starts this year in Japan. Nissan promises that the lithium-ion battery model will be able to go 160 kilometers on a full charge.

Nissan Motor Co. is set to release its new Leaf electric vehicle (EV) later this year, with a price tag of less than 4 million yen, it has emerged.

The Nissan Leaf, a rechargeable compact car, will go on sale in Japan, North America and Europe this autumn. The automaker has decided to set the sales price of its new model for the Japanese market below 4 million yen, a price well under that of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s i-MiEV electric car (4.599 million yen).

With the government subsidy for electric vehicles, Nissan expects the actual cost borne by customers could be further reduced to less than 3 million yen.

Powered by a thin lithium-ion battery developed in collaboration with NEC Corp., the five-seat EV can travel over 160 kilometers on a single charge.

A full charge can be achieved in about eight hours using a 200-volt domestic outlet, and with dedicated quick-chargers to be installed at gas stations, batteries can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in about 30 minutes.

The automaker plans to produce 50,000 units in Japan in 2010 and 150,000 units in the U.S. by late 2012, the most ambitious production target of EVs among major car manufactures worldwide.

In order to achieve this, it is essential to introduce the products at a reasonable price, says Nissan President Carlos Ghosn, prompting the company to take the lead in pushing down the price of its new model far below those of the rival i-MiEV and Subaru Plug-in Stella (4.725 million yen).

As part of its efforts to promote the widespread use of electric cars in the country, the Japanese government has drastically increased the funds for its subsidy program for EV purchases from 2.6 billion yen in fiscal 2009 to 12.4 billion yen in the fiscal 2010 budget bill.

With a public subsidy equivalent to that for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV for fiscal 2009 (1.39 million yen), the Nissan Leaf will in effect cost less than 3 million yen for its prospective owners.

As Mitsubishi Motors has also revealed its price reduction strategy to make its i-MiEV electric vehicle available for less than 2 million yen by fiscal 2014, price competition in the EV market will undoubtedly accelerate.

Nissan says it has more than 56,000 pre-orders for the Leaf, its fully-electric car set to be released to the mass market in 2012. Just last November, the Nissan-led Electrification Coalition lobbied the U.S. government to fund electric vehicle projects.

CEO Carlos Ghosn plans to sell the Leaf to fleet first to operators like taxi companies and governments as well. By 2013, Nissan will build a half million Leaf vehicles globally.

Nissan also plans to have it’s EV on the market two years before Tesla brings its more affordable Model S to market. The Leaf will cost around $25,000, while the Model S will be priced over $50,000.