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Nissan Updates the All-Electric Leaf for 2012

Having delivered almost 10,000 Leaf electric cars globally since they were introduced 9 months ago, over 4,400 of which have been to the U.S., Nissan says they’ve proven there is mass market demand for EVs. For the upcoming 2012 Leaf model year, Nissan will expand availability nationwide, as well as make cold weather features and DC fast charging standard. In a bit of an unusual twist, the 2012 Leaf will also get a higher price tag.

Leaf orders were initially restricted to Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, but starting July 25, 2011, customers with existing reservations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C., will be able to place orders for the vehicle. Some of these reservation holders have waited to order their Leaf models since April of 2010, when they put their names on the $99 reservation list.

On August 4, 2011, the Leaf ordering process will be opened up to everyone living in any of the above states and D.C., not just the current reservation holders. By early 2012, Nissan says that the Leaf will be available for order in all 50 states. Anyone who orders a Leaf starting on July 25 will be ordering a model year 2012 Leaf and, according to Nissan’s Senior Vice President of Sales, Brian Carolin, can expect delivery 4 months after ordering.

“The model year 2011 Leaf is effectively sold out at this point,” said Carolin in an interview with AutoTrader during the Plug-In 2011 conference. “We will honor the pricing that all 2011 Leaf orderers locked in, of course, and they will have their vehicles delivered by the end of the summer. After that, the vehicles that we will deliver will be the 2012 model with more standard features and a higher price.”

In order to prepare the Leaf for cold climate driving, both 2012 trims–the base SV and upgraded SL–will come standard with a cold weather package, including heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a battery warmer that ensures stable battery operation at very low temperatures. Using heated surfaces to keep passengers warm is much more efficient than using a fan to blow hot air around the car, which means the range will decrease less quickly in cold weather. The cold weather package was previously a $900 option.

On the top-of-the-line SL trim, DC fast charging–which allows Leaf drivers to add about 80 miles of driving range in a half hour of charging from special stations–will come standard on the 2012 Leaf. DC fast charging was previously a $700 option.

To accommodate the additional standard equipment, Nissan has raised the 2012 Leaf’s price over the 2011 model. The SV trim (formerly $32,780) will now start at $35,200–an increase of more than 7%. The SL trim (formerly $33,720) will now start at $37,250–an increase of more than 10%.

Nissan expects to deliver an additional 3,000 model year 2011 Leafs by late summer, bringing total deliveries of the 2011 Leaf to around 7,500 before deliveries of the model year 2012 Leaf begin. Carolin says that Nissan expects to deliver significant numbers of 2012 Leafs before the end of the year, which may bring the total number of Leafs delivered to the U.S. in 2011 close to 10,000 units.

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