"We’re pretty excited about it," said Rick Beaucar, sales manager at West Covina Nissan. "Nissan is taking everyone’s information and ideas and is making sure this car is going to be right for the market."
Making it right for the market means a car that can go up to 100 miles on a single charge, starting off at a monthly lease payment of $349, Nissan said. Orders in the U.S. start April 20 and Nissan is aiming for 25,000 orders by December.
Erich Merkle, president of the consulting company Autoconomy.com in Michigan, said Nissan may be deliberately setting the price low — even enough to lose money — to establish itself as a market leader.
GM says its Volt is a better deal, because drivers don’t have to worry about running out of electricity. The Volt, which GM officials were looking to price at around $35,000, is not all-electric car. It can go 40 miles on full electricity before a small, gas engine kicks in.
Lessening distance anxiety will be key to the Leaf’s success, Beaucar said.
"If they can get the technology to where it can recharge right away, in a couple of hours … if you you can go to work, charge it up, within 100 miles of work, it’s a practical car," he said.
That’s where AeroVironment and Nissan think the product is. Long gone are the days when it took 24 hours to charge an electric car battery, officials said.
Nissan will offer customers personal charging stations, built and installed by AeroVironment. They’ll cost $2,200, with customers eligible for a 50 percent federal tax credit, Nissan announced Tuesday.
For AeroVironment, the announcement brought years of work on chargers closer to reality in the mass market.
"For us, it’s a big deal," said Kristen Helsel, director of EVSolutions and Efficient Energy Systems at AeroVironment. "For us, for more than 20 years, Electric Vehicles charging has been important to us … with all the automakers involved in this space. The reality of the EV market is coming closer and closer."
Beaucar said that within a couple of months, charging stations will be installed at his dealership. And Nissan officials will speak with sales staffers on the features of the electric car.