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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nissan reveals 27,000 pre-orders for Leaf electric car

Nissan has this week confirmed that it has already received 27,000 pre-orders worldwide for its soon-to-be-launched Leaf electric car, including 1,000 orders from Europe.

Speaking in Lisbon at a debut event for the production version of the Leaf, marketing and strategy manager Christian Castaganna said the company had received 26,000 orders in Japan and the US, where the car will launch next month, and a further 1,000 orders from Europe where the car will launch in four markets early next year.

Around 350 orders have been recorded in the UK, with a further 150 from Portugal, 300 from Ireland and 200 from the Netherlands.

Castaganna also confirmed that the company had received over 13,000 expressions of interests from so-called "hand-raisers" in Europe and was planning to launch the car in France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Scandinavia before next summer.

He said that Nissan had expected orders to be divided 50:50 between consumer and fleet customers, but to date around 55 per cent of orders have come from corporate fleet customers.

David Jackson, electric vehicle (EV) project manager, said the corporate market had the potential to explode in the coming years. "Fleet customers have constantly been interested in the car, but now that is beginning to come through in the form of orders," he said. "For fleets, EVs are ideal as they tend to have control over usage and know the distance of the journeys they carry out."

The company is also continuing to lay the groundwork for next year's launch, training staff at around 10 per cent of Nissan dealerships to offer sales and technical support for the car, and finalising details for a three-year warranty that extends to five years for all electrical components.

In addition, Castaganna said that the company is in talks with a leading insurer about offering tailored insurance for the new car. He added that because of the lower maintenance costs for the car and the anticipation of relatively low accident rates premiums are likely to "extremely competitive" and could undercut those for conventional vehicles.

Nissan reiterated its plans for a Personal Contract Purchase financing plan that offers customers a guaranteed price for the vehicle after three years if they want to sell it back or part exchange it for a new car.

Nissan is yet to confirm the guaranteed return price, but CAP, an organisation that calculates residual values for cars, has said the value of Leaf after three years or 30,000 miles should be £11,550, meaning the car will retain 48 per cent of its value compared to the initial price of £23,990 after the government's incentive.

The company also provided more details of how it plans to combat so-called " range anxiety" whereby drivers become concerned that EVs will run out of battery without access to a recharging point.

This week it debuted the latest version of the satnav and dashboard system that will be used in the production car, which constantly updates drivers on how far they can travel with the batteries current level of charge, lets them know where the nearest charge points are, and provides guidance on how to extend the car's range by adopting smoother driving styles.

A Nissan spokesman added that the company had agreements in place with 80 national, state and city governments to accelerate the rollout of public charging networks, including a scheme in Amsterdam where the government has promised to install a charging point for all EV owners.

He also confirmed that Nissan was investigating introducing an offer that could see the company subsidise car hire for Leaf customers when they want to take journeys that are beyond the range of the electric car.

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