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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 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.

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