Before sales of Nissan’s new electric car go full-tilt in the U.S., the Japanese automaker will start with 5,000 units in five different markets. The targeted areas include the Phoenix-Tucson region of Arizona, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee.
Nissan’s product planning boss Mark Perry says that this is just the first step in a larger plan.“This is not a test to determine whether or not it’s going to work. This is the beginning of mass marketing,” he said.
Full retail sales are planned for 2012, but Perry says they will begin sooner if a market has the infrastructure ready to support the vehicles. Nissan also plans to offer the LEAF for fleet sales in 2010.
An infrastructure network of 12,500 recharging stations will be built throughout the five markets by Phoenix-based Electric Transportation Engineering Corp., which has received a $99.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. An additional $199.6 million necessary to built the infrastructure will come from the individual cities and states.
Owners of the first 5,000 cars will be able to purchase the at Nissan dealers but will have to sign on to allow Nissan to monitor the car’s performance over the first two years. Nissan says it wants to see how electric vehicle recharging habits play out in the real world. Owners will also be “chosen” by Nissan as the automaker wants to make sure the information it obtains is relevant. “We don’t want these first cars going to somebody who commutes 150 miles a day or who lives a great distance from a recharging station,” he said.
As for the price, Nissan hasn’t release specifics but did say that it would be comparable to a fully-loaded compact car.
[Source: Automotive News]