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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nissan boost Leaf output as US sales rise

Nissan has lifted U.S. production of its all-electric Leaf by about 50 percent to 3,000 units a month to meet growing demand for the car.

The Leaf logged record sales of 2,500 units in December and was now the best-selling car in some dealerships in Atlanta, where the government is helping promote the technology, outpacing the Altima sedan.

The pickup in sales was driven in large part by Nissan's decision to cut its price by more than $6,000 to $29,650 at the beginning of last year after a shift in production of the model to the United States allowed it to lower manufacturing costs.

While volumes are still at relatively low levels for a production car, sales more than doubled last year to above 22,000 in the U.S. market, momentum is building.

One factor is the increase in charging stations in Atlanta and cities such as Seattle and San Francisco on the West Coast. There are currently 554 quick-charging stations, and more than 15,000 slower "level 2" public charging stations across the U.S., Nissan estimates.

The Leaf's customer base is also evolving. While at first most Leaf buyers were green enthusiasts, increasingly customers focused on the potential cost benefits of owning an electric car are showing up at its dealerships. As a result, it has recently increased prices on some versions of the Leaf. Nissan produces the Leaf at its Smyrna, Tennessee plant.

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