Nissan Motor Co. will sell the Leaf electric car for a base price of $32,780 in the United States and begin taking orders on April 20. When combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit, the Leaf will be priced at $25,280, the automaker said in a statement today. State and local credits can further reduce the cost to consumers, Nissan said. Early on today, the automaker also said it would sell the battery-powered Leaf hatchback starting off at 3.76 million yen ($40,640) in Japan, where it is also counting on government subsidies to slash the cost to consumers. Nissan said it aims to sell 6,000 Leaf cars, its first mass-volume all-electric model, in Japan for the year ending in March 2011. The company will start taking orders for the model April 1 in Japan, with the first delivery expected in December. After accounting for Japanese government subsidies, Nissan said the net cost to consumers to buy a new Leaf would be near 2.99 million yen ($32,373). The Leaf pricing also represents a premium over established, combustion-engine powered small sedans, such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Analysts have said the premium reflects the cost of developing and producing the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery pack. The cost of batteries and the reluctance of consumers to pay more upfront for fuel-saving technology are seen as the major hurdles to mass-market adoption of electric vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp.’s gasoline-electric Prius hybrid, now in its third generation, has a base model starting price at just over 2 million yen ($22,195) in Japan. After trailing rivals Toyota Motor and Honda Motor in the hybrid field, Japan’s No.3 automaker has bet heavily on pure electric vehicles along with partner Renault SA of France. Nissan has said it expects that 10 percent of the world’s auto market will be electric vehicles by 2020, a ratio at the top of industry projections. The automaker has also announced a series of partnerships with utilities and government agencies in the United States and Europe where it believes it has a chance of seizing market leadership. The five-passenger Leaf is designed to provide a range of about 100 miles. Nissan has developed the battery pack for the Leaf with NEC Corp., so that it can be recharged overnight on a 220-volt connection. While skeptics abound, almost all major automakers are working on developing battery-run cars for use mainly in urban areas, to meet stricter emissions and mileage regulations being introduced around the world.
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