Nissan to Begin Taking Reservations for New LEAF All-Electric Vehicles in April

In a move designed to coincide with the completion of a 24-city marketing tour, Nissan North America Incorporated announced that it will begin taking orders for the all-electric LEAF as early as next December.

The marketing tour included LEAF appearances in two dozen major American and Canadian metropolitan areas and concluded in New York City on Tuesday.

Nissan says that it will limit the first round of LEAF orders to specific markets. The selection of those markets will be based on a number of factors including the availability of the necessary battery charging infrastructure.

The automaker said that interested consumers in the selected markets will be able to reserve their LEAF online beginning in April. At that time, Nissan plans to announce pricing for the LEAF and will require a $100 refundable deposit to complete the reservation process.

A four-part ordering process for the actual purchase and delivery will be available online in August, and Nissan hopes to begin delivering the autos to their new owners in December.

Consumers will also be able to purchase home charging stations for their new LEAFs during the online ordering process. Pricing and technical details for the charging device has not yet been announced.

Nissan said that about 50,000 consumers have already registered online to receive more information on the LEAF.

In May, Nissan plans to begin work on a new lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. The company was awarded a $1.4 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy for the purchase and conversion of an existing manufacturing plant and plans to be in full production by 2012.

Hertz Corporation has announced that it will add the LEAF to its rental fleet and will begin renting them to customers in selected U.S. and European markets beginning in early 2011. The company plans to add the LEAF to its global Connect by Hertz car-sharing program which is based on the successful Zipcar model. Connect by Hertz caters to customers in densely-populated urban areas who rent small, low emissions vehicles on an hourly basis.

Nissan says the LEAF will have an operational range of 100 miles before requiring recharging and is the only all-electric vehicle currently slated for full production by any major automaker. Last August, Nissan predicted that all-electric vehicles will make up 10% of the global auto market by as early as 2016 as additional infrastructure comes online, prices fall and consumers embrace the new technology.

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