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Next Generation LEAF More Expensive, More Available

Nissan Leaf
Photo Courtesy of Nissan
Nissan Leaf

For the Nissan LEAF, the second year of sales in the US will bring a higher sticker price, more standard features and greater availability.

It's a sign that as the LEAF broadens out its base, and as demand remains strong, the Japanese automaker can and will charge more the electric car.

I can already hear people grousing that the car should be getting less expensive, not more expensive. That complaint aside, the higher sticker price for the LEAF is a welcome sign about the health of the electric car market.

First, the new price. For the '12 LEAF, the SV model will start at $35,200 (up $2,420 from '11 model) and the SL model will start at $37,250 (up $3,530 compared to last year). Hefty increases for sure, but not outrageous. Keep in mind, the LEAF still has limited competition in the electric car market its biggest rival, the Chevy Volt, already comes with a higher price point.

This is why I doubt the price increase will hurt LEAF sales.

Also, the new LEAF will come with more standard features, a welcome change from the initial models. The two most notable additions being DC Fast Charge capability and cold weather features like a battery warmer, heated steering wheel, and heated seats. The fast charge option was popular with those who ordered the 2011 model of the LEAF and will allow the car to be 80% charged in less than half hour of charging.

But perhaps the biggest change for 2012 is that the LEAF will be the expansion of markets where you can reserve the car. In the fall, new reservations will begin in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. By the end of the year, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. While the LEAF is not available in every Nissan showroom, it is gradually rolling into more Nissan dealerships.

So far this year, Nissan has sold 3,875 LEAF models and aside from a few glitches earlier this year, the LEAF has performed as expected. Now comes the 2012 model and the next leg of growth for the LEAF.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments?BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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