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The drop in prices are mainly due to the fact that Nissan has moved Leaf production from Japan to Tennessee

Nissan’s Leaf just experienced a dramatic price drop, making it the cheapest five-seater electric vehicle (EV) in the U.S. At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the price of the base model 2013 Leaf has been cut by $6,400. Last year’s base model went for $35,200, and now, the 2013 Leaf S will sell for $28,800 to start before a $7,500 federal tax credit (and any applicable state credit/rebate) is applied.
A couple of other Leaf models have seen a price cut as well. The Leaf SV will drop from last year’s price of $35,200 to $31,820 this year. The Leaf SL is also going from $37,250 last year to $34,840 this year.
“With nearly 50,000 Leafs on the road globally, we are the leaders in zero emissions vehicles and our class-leading product just got better,” said Billy Hayes, Global vice president of Leaf sales for Nissan. “From the very outset, Nissan has continuously advanced and refined the affordable zero emissions vehicle ownership experience. Now customers won’t have to pay a premium for owning a green car that’s really fun to drive, and that’s exciting.”

2013 Nissan Leaf

The drop in prices is mainly due to the fact that Nissan has moved Leaf production from Japan to Tennessee. It also has its lithium-ion batteries and motors manufactured there. Nissan announced that it began Leaf production at a new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee last Thursday. It will build the Leaf and gasoline vehicles in this plant, while building batteries at a separate plant next door. The plant is the result of a 2010 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan for $1.4 billion. According to the DOE, Nissan can build up to 150,000 Leafs and 200,000 batteries annually at the Tennessee plants
Nissan’s Leaf had a rough time last year as far as sales and performance goes. In July 2012, Leaf owners in Arizona complained that their EVs were losing significant battery capacity in the desert’s high heat. Nissan responded by basically saying that this was normal and promised more open communication with owners of the Leaf EV.
Later, Nissan had to admit that it wasn’t going to hit its sales mark for 2012, which was 20,000 Leafs. Nissan only sold 9,819 Leafs for the whole year -- less than half of its goal, and only 1.5 percent higher than the number it sold in 2011.

Source: Nissan

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By Manch on 1/15/2013 8:45:34 AM , Rating: 2
That's still almost 5 years of city driving.

By Mint on 1/15/2013 9:39:29 AM , Rating: 2
So what? A car lasts 15 years, not 5. It's an easy lifetime win. The Leaf will sell for more after whatever time you want to own it.

If you're too shortsighted to look at lifetime value, then look at lease rates, add in fuel costs, and compare.

Lease rates factor in a manufacturer's estimated residual value, which includes factors like future fuel savings for the next buyer, reliability, expected maintenance costs, etc.

By rdhood on 1/15/2013 9:58:30 AM , Rating: 2
A car lasts 15 years, not 5. It's an easy lifetime win.

A battery is not going to last 15 years. In fact, Nissan just increased the warranty on batteries to 5 years because they were starting to crap out at 3 years. A battery is estimated to cost $15,000 at this point. It's NOT an easy lifetime win. It's still a huge gamble if you normally keep a car for 10 or 15 years.

By Nutzo on 1/15/2013 10:50:15 AM , Rating: 3
This is going to be the real problem with electric cars.

The Prius Hybrid battery last over 10 years for most people due to the limited charge/discharge cycles (they don't fully charge or discharge the battery). A pure electric car has a much higher charge/discharge cycle, which puts more stress on the battery that limits it's life. A 5 year old Leaf (or any electric car) is likely to have a low resell value due to the battery being close worn out.

By Manch on 1/15/2013 10:59:01 AM , Rating: 2
and no warranty

By Mint on 1/15/2013 11:39:38 AM , Rating: 2
The Prius Hybrid battery last over 10 years for most people due to the limited charge/discharge cycles (they don't fully charge or discharge the battery).
That's incorrect. Hybrids charge/discharge throughout a driving cycle, i.e. many times per day. They also have small batteries, so getting a car up to speed or recovering energy does indeed charge/discharge quite a bit.

The majority of Leaf users charge once a day or less. Regenerative braking only adds ~1% to their SoC, not 20%.

A 5 year old Leaf (or any electric car) is likely to have a low resell value due to the battery being close worn out.
That's speculation. If so many lithium ion battery makers can achieve 3000-5000 cycles at or near full depth of discharge, why do you think Nissan will achieve so much less?

Car makers offer 3-5 years warranties. Do they fall apart after that time? Of course not. Nissan is not going to be able sell off-lease vehicles for the amount needed to recoup cost if batteries kept dying shortly afterwards. They have a reputation to maintain.

By kmmatney on 1/15/2013 3:24:07 PM , Rating: 3
Your info is not correct - at least with the 2 Priuses I have driven (2002 and 2007 models). By default, those models will not let the battery drain to less than 15% capacity, and will not charge the battery above 85%. This extends the life of the battery. I don't know if they changed that, but that's what they did with those models. An electric car will need to use much more of it's battery capacity.

By Mint on 1/15/2013 4:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't trying to imply that hybrids charge/discharge fully. I'm just saying that they lose/gain substantial amounts of charge many times a day.

For a Leaf, going from 85% to 15% will drive you 65 miles. If that was a typical day's use, you'd be driving 20000+ miles a year.

By Mint on 1/15/2013 11:21:13 AM , Rating: 2
It's not going to have the same range in 10 years, but even 60% of the original range will still be very usable by someone in the market for a used car and be almost as efficient. If you do replace the battery 10 years from now, it will be a lot cheaper then, and the car will likely be usable another 10 years.

Yes, it is a gamble, and that's why you look at leases where the manufacturer takes on all the risk, because they have the best information. Auto companies lost billions on poorly predicted residuals when the recession hit, so they're going to be more careful now.

Nobody knows what the Leaf battery pack costs. Insiders were saying $375/kWh a long time ago, which means $9k, and that was before the new facility was running. 15 years isn't out of the question, either. 5000+ cycles has been proven by several battery makers. Anecdotal stories about capacity loss in AZ doesn't tell you anything about average cycle life.

A123 shows data claiming 65% capacity after 20000 full DoD cycles, which would imply over 1 million miles in the Leaf. I doubt Nissan's battery is that good, but 200k is certainly doable.

By JediJeb on 1/15/2013 4:07:36 PM , Rating: 2
If you do replace the battery 10 years from now, it will be a lot cheaper then, and the car will likely be usable another 10 years.

That is assuming the battery tech is nearly the same and someone still supplies a large volume of those batteries. Can you replace a 10 year old computer processor with the same model cheaply and easily currently? It is difficult to even find batteries to replace the ones in an rechargeable drill after 10 years, I sure hope it won't be the same for cars. But if they make it expensive to replace the batteries then it will make people want to upgrade the whole car instead, which they might do to push sales.

By Mint on 1/15/2013 4:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
That's possible, but I don't see why, in 10 years, batteries would be any different than other car parts. Today we have parts being built for 15 year-old cars and sold for a lot less than what your dealer offers.

I'd be really shocked if nobody figures out how to replace the cells in a Leaf battery pack or create a substitute.

By Manch on 1/15/2013 12:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
So what? Even with the tax break calculated in, you can buy the car and drive for almost 5 years before you hit the price of the leaf!

By Mint on 1/15/2013 7:59:30 PM , Rating: 2
After those 5 years, you can sell the cars, and you'll have more money in your pocket if you originally chose the Leaf.

Or you can keep running it, and your cost will be less than running the used Rio.

Either way, the Leaf is the smarter option.

By Dr of crap on 1/15/2013 1:21:14 PM , Rating: 2
WOW 5 years - you think that's too much?

How long to do you keep your cars?

Me - over 10 years.

By Manch on 1/15/2013 1:56:27 PM , Rating: 2
huh? I think you misunderstand. You can buy the car and drive it for five years for the price of the leaf. If you want to keep it longer then go for it, It will have been long paid for!

By Mint on 1/15/2013 2:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
You're not very bright, are you.

Who is going to pay for the gas and maintenance of that crappy Rio after five years? It's not free to run. The point is that over 10 years, the Leaf will work out cheaper.

By Manch on 1/15/2013 2:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
Oh Jesus Christ, Pick another car on that list then. The point is vs buying a leaf, any of those cars is more economical. I already found your leased car for cheaper than you r leaf so just STFU already

By Mint on 1/15/2013 4:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't find jack.

You claim that a dog-slow two-seat car with half the interior space is equivalent to the Leaf.

Everyone on this board knows how dumb you are for thinking that. Not even you would ever buy that car.

By JediJeb on 1/15/2013 4:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
If you have to replace the battery at 10 years then the savings of the Leaf will be lost versus any of the cheaper cars. At best it will be a push in overall costs.

Now if you keep the Leaf for over 16 years and 235K miles as I have my current vehicle, how much will maintenance costs on the Leaf be? That is uncharted waters for any EV right now.

By Mint on 1/15/2013 5:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
We don't know what battery costs will be in 2023, so you can't say that with any certainty. Envia systems is promising $125/kWh by 2018, i.e. $3k for a Leaf sized pack.

True, it is uncharted waters. However, everything we know about electric motors in industry suggests that they are lower maintenance than gasoline motors. So far, hybrids have scored very well in reliability, and it makes sense since they take load/wear off the gas engine. EVs have done very well also.

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