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Enterprise to Rent Out Nissan Leafs in Eight Cities

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On: Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 9:16AM | By: Chris Weiss

Enterprise to Rent Out Nissan Leafs in Eight Cities

Want to get some on-road testing time behind the wheel of an electric vehicle without committing to buying one? Nissan and Enterprise announced this week that you'll get just that opportunity beginning this January. The Japanese automaker is selling a fleet of 500 Leaf electric vehicles to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The rental company will distribute the EVs to eight separate locations, allowing car renters the opportunity to give the new electric car an extended test run.

Enterprise, which owns Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental brands, will introduce the Nissan Leaf models to the Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Nashville, and Knoxville markets this winter. It's not yet clear if there will be a premium for Leaf rentals, but Enterprise does offer hybrid vehicles at an increased rental price over gas-powered models so electric vehicles are expected to be priced similarly.

The move by Enterprise seems like a positive one all around: consumers in the cities included will have the opportunity to try Nissan's electric vehicle, Nissan will familiarize the market with EV technology, and Enterprise will make a visible move toward embracing clean technology.

In terms of charging, Enterprise plans to provide an infrastructure at its rental locations. According to today's announcement, the company will add charging stations at 100 of its rental locations around the country. That project will begin in November.

While Leaf rentals could help to sway a few undecideds to or away from an electric purchase, Nissan has already demonstrated some early success in marketing and distribution. Though official ordering doesn't begin until next month, Nissan has taken 17,000 U.S. reservations for the $32,780 car. The company plans to keep preordering open until they've met 25,000 reservations. Reservations require a refundable $99 fee to hold your place in line for the car.

California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Tennessee will be the first states where the Leaf will be available beginning this December. Those states represent over half of the Leaf reservations that have been made.

The Leaf offers 100 miles of pure-electric driving courtesy of a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery and 80 kW AC motor. It will compete with the Chevy Volt range-extending electric, which will also go on sale later this year. Chevy announced this week that the Volt will be priced at $41,000.

While there is a clear disparity in the MSRPs of the two models, both companies will offer comparable leasing options costing around $350 per month.

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