• Nissan's electric LEAF in high demand across country
  • Many dealers experiencing shortages
  • Nissan says production will catch up this fall

The Nissan LEAF is getting hard to find. Nissan recently announced its fully electric hatchback is now in short supply thanks to rising interest from shoppers around the country.

According to Nissan, the formerly slow-selling LEAF is now finding more than 2,000 buyers per month -- a big number for any specialty car, especially an electric vehicle. The sharp sales increase means some areas of the country don't have enough LEAF units to meet demand.

"We're going to be short on inventory all through the summer," said Erik Gottfried, Nissan's director of electric vehicle sales and marketing, in Automotive News. "It will be late fall before we can produce enough to satisfy everybody."

While Nissan hasn't commented on reasons behind the increase in demand, most industry insiders would agree Nissan's lease deals play a big part. Over the last few months, Nissan has offered the LEAF for just $199 per month after $1,999 due at lease signing. That price -- coupled with the fact that the LEAF never requires gasoline -- has made LEAF ownership an easy choice for many car shoppers.

So why does Nissan not build more LEAF units to meet demand? Nissan says its recently completed U.S. production facility is not yet ramped up to full capacity. As a result, production has not yet reached the 150,000-unit annual figure the plant will soon deliver. When the factory catches up, Nissan may finally be able to align LEAF supply with demand.

The LEAF debuted in late 2010 for the 2011 model year. Initially starting around $36,000, the LEAF added a lower-priced, base-level S model for 2013. That brought prices under $30,000 and enabled Nissan to offer such enticing lease deals.

What it means to you: With supplies dwindling, it may be harder to get a good deal on a Nissan LEAF this summer if you're buying rather than leasing.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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