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2012 Nissan Leaf Gets Price Increase

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On: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 5:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

2012 Nissan Leaf Gets Price Increase

With Nissan increasing the price of next year's Leaf model by more than $2,000, the 2012 Nissan Leaf edges ever closer to the price of the 2012 Chevy Volt.

The 2012 Leaf SV base model will start at $36,050, a $2,420 increase over the 2011 Leaf's $33,630 base price. The 2012 Leaf SL starts at $38,100, representing a $3,530 increase over the 2011 Leaf SL. Nissan says the increased pricing is due to added equipment including quick-charging hardware and cold-weather upgrades.

While it's not necessarily surprising that Nissan would increase the price of the Leaf from one model year to the next, it's a little surprising in light of the greater market. The Leaf has actually proven that it can perform against its closest competitor—the Chevy Volt. In fact, despite a near non-existent start, the Leaf handily outsold the Chevy Volt in their first six months on the market.

However, Leaf has some serious pros and cons. The Leaf's major con is that it offers only about 100 miles of range, vs. the Volt's 350 miles. That subjects it to all kinds of range anxiety and limits it to those that need it only for short, defined commutes.

On the other hand, the 2011 Leaf's starting price was more than 7 grand cheaper than the Volt's, a factor that must have convinced at least a few Leaf drivers to go Nissan over Chevy. Chevy announced recently that it was cutting the price of the 2012 Volt by more than $1,000. The 2012 Volt will start at $39,995, which cuts the gap between the Leaf and Volt nearly in half to $3,945. Combine that closer price with the limited range and utility of the Leaf, and it seems like the 2012 Volt will easily beat the Leaf for sales.

Nissan doesn't seem all that worried though. A Nissan spokeswoman told Inside Line when asked if the closing price gap was a disadvantage, "This idea that these two cars are battling it out for the hearts and minds of consumers isn't what we're seeing."

In other words, Nissan believes that the Leaf is standing on its own and doesn't have to compete that closely with the Volt. Its research supports that, showing that around 75 percent of Leaf buyers didn't even consider another car.

It may be right. Given its low range and zero emissions, the Leaf really is limited to a specific type of buyer, a buyer that doesn't intend to drive long distances and wants the cleanest mass market vehicle out there. Many buyers that choose the Leaf may not even consider the Volt because of its higher price and less eco-friendly design. If a 100-mile EV works for your needs, why pay more for a car that still relies to some extent on gas? Similarly, many Volt buyers may not even consider the Leaf because of its limited range. There's certainly some gray area, but Nissan doesn't seem that concerned.

It will be interesting to see how 2012 sales stack up. It seems like those buyers that are willing to go electric without even considering other options will dry up within the first year or two, especially if gas prices level, leaving the Leaf struggling for an audience.

The 2012 Leaf goes on sale in the fall.



RoadKill | 7:19AM (Tue, Jul 26, 2011)

let me get this right, a car with limited range that can only serve as a second car for most families and they want to bump the price $2000 for a car that is not selling well....sounds about right if you want to sell less cars....

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