Nissan Leaf electric car gets a price tag: $33,000

Nissan's all-electric Leaf hatchback will retail for $33,000 and begin pre-orders next month. Will consumers bite on a plug-in car?
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Nissan said on Tuesday that its all-electric Leaf hatchback will be available for order next month for $33,000 before subsidies.

Customers can order the $32,780 vehicle beginning April 20 in the United States. Nissan says it will start shipping the Leaf in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in the first half of next year, with nationwide availability coming later in the year.

Leases are available for $349 per month.

With consideration to the Leaf's range of 100 miles, Nissan also suggests consumers purchase a home charging station, such as one made by Aerovironment, which can be installed for about $2,200.

U.S. government incentives are steep for the car: a federal tax credit of $7,500 is available for the car, with another for half the cost of a charging station, up to $2,000.

California, Georgia and Oregon also offer incentives at the state level -- $5,000 for California and Georgia and $1,500 for Oregon.

At $25,000 -- that's $33,000 minus the rebates -- Nissan has priced the Leaf low enough to be in the middle of the American market and high enough to ensure profitability.

That's a good thing, because Nissan's goal is to sell 50,000 Leafs globally in the first year. (The Leaf is slated for global rollout in 2012.)

The rub is how Nissan will handle warranties for the lithium-ion battery packs found in the vehicles, which degrade over time and could shave off tens of miles from its total range after 10 years of use.

It takes about eight hours to charge the Lead with a home 240-volt charger. Plugged into a standard U.S. 120-volt outlet, that increases to 16 to 18 hours.

Right now, the nation's infrastructure can't handle charging away from the home in any scaled capacity, but Nissan says it's working with municipalities and utilities to offer public charging stations.

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