$25,000 for Electric Leaf Will Spark Early Buyers


Would you pay that for an all-electric car promising to get up to 100 miles per charge?

Nissan Leaf
Source: nissanusa.com
Nissan Leaf

Nissan believes many of you will. At least enough to meet initial production goals and plant a seed for future demand of the car. On this one, I think Nissan and CEO Carlos Ghosn are right.

For sparking initial interest, the Leaf is well within the reach of many buyers, and that's one of two hurdles Nissan will have to clear.

The other is "range anxiety."

But for 85,000 people who have already told Nissan they are interested in the Leaf, pricing is the big challenge.

Ghosn knows this.

Last December at a small dinner I attended with Ghosn and a handful of reporters, he told us, "People want to drive electric, but only if it makes sense financially. If you charge too much, the majority of people won't make the jump." He's right. And everyone in the auto industry knows it.

It's the reason why GM is fighting to keep the MSRP on the Chevy Volt under $40,000, which would mean you'd pay $32,500 after a federal government tax credit. Affordability is also the goal behind the new sedan Tesla is developing. The California based company hopes to parlay the interest and success in its much more expensive roadster into greater sales with the mass market.

Frankly, there should be more than enough "early adopters" and "greenies" willing to buy these all-electric or extended-range electric cars. Moving beyond that initial wave will depend on whether Americans overcome "range anxiety" or the fear they can only drive a few miles around town in an electric car.

This is going to take time and be a tougher nut to crack.

We've all grown up on cheap gas, horsepower, and the idea that we can jump in our car whenever we want and drive wherever we want at a moments notice. Want to make that spur of the moment road trip? Get in and go.

But with an electric car, all of that changes.

This is the reason Nissan believes the Leaf will be the second car people use for commuting around town and running errands. Will they pay $25K for a second car? Initially, they will.

Whether or not, this all-electric car sparks a surge of buying with the broader public will depend on whether people are ready to "go green"- at least around town.


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