With San Diego as “Ground Zero,” Nissan Targets Pragmatic Car Buyers With Leaf EV—and We Take It for A Test Hum

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get EV charging stations under a $99.8-million matching grant the federal Department of Energy awarded last summer to Ecotality (NASDAQ: ECTY), a company based in Scotsdale, AZ, that specializes in EV charging infrastructure. Under the DOE program, Nissan is deploying close to 5,000 Leaf EVs in 11 metropolitan markets in five states. San Diego, the only California metro area enrolled in the program, is expected to get all 1,000 of California’s Leafs and close to 2,500 charging stations.

Nissan Leaf EV 2That doesn’t mean Leaf EVs won’t be available elsewhere in California or the U.S. for that matter. The Japanese carmaker plans to manufacture 50,000 Leafs during its first year of production, and those cars will be distributed for sale around the world, including Nissan dealers throughout the United States. But federal funding for installing the charging stations has been limited to the 11 metro areas in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Tennessee—and EVs are expected to proliferate more rapidly in those areas. Perry says he expects to sell 3,000 to 4,000 Leaf EVs in San Diego alone.

“You’ll see other EVs out there doing a hundred or 500 vehicles,” Perry says. “We’re doing tens of thousands of vehicles.”

About 15,000 people in the U.S. have paid a refundable $99 reservation fee that allows them to purchase a Leaf when the EV becomes available, according to Nissan. About 5,000 of those prospective buyers are in California, including more than 1,000 in San Diego.

Nissan says the compact Leaf hatchback seats five, but the car is so small, it’s really just a four-seater. The carmaker also says … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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