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A Nissan Leaf for $12,000?

Extensive tax incentives could shave nearly 2/3 off sticker price.

by on Oct.25, 2010

Could you put a 2011 Nissan Leaf in your driveway for just $12,000?

Imagine getting a new 2011 Nissan Leaf for nearly two-thirds off the sticker price.  That very well could happen for some buyers of the battery-electric vehicle if they live and work in the right places.

Given the range of tax credits and other givebacks coming online, some Leaf customers could drive one home for barely $12,000.

Nissan has put a base of $32,780 on the BEV.  But that doesn’t take into account the $7,500 federal tax credit that will be offered on the 2011 Leaf (for the first 200,000 customers, anyway).

And it also ignores an array of state and local incentives, and even some incentives from green-minded employers, notes Mark Perry, the Nissan product planning chief overseeing the maker’s battery program.

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Washington State, for one, waves the sales tax for buyers. The State of Colorado, meanwhile, has approved a $6,000 credit of its own.  In fact, 13 states now have some form of financial incentives in place covering battery cars and other green, high-mileage models, including the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

In California, the credit is a smaller $5,000, but Leaf buyers also will get the coveted HOV decal that permits a motorist to drive in the freeway car pool lanes even with only one person onboard.

And a number of California communities are kicking in cash of their own.  Like Fresno and the other communities that make up the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.  They’ll toss in yet another $3,000.

But if you want to cut the price even more, land a job at one of several employers, notably including the Sony and Fox studios, which are covering $5,000 of their employees’ costs for a Leaf or one of the other qualifying vehicles.

Add it up and you get down to just a bit above $12,000 – and that’s before a tenacious buyer starts haggling.

Meanwhile, under the right circumstances, buyers might also get a high-voltage charger installed for free – or close to it – thanks to additional federal, state and local incentives.  Buyers should check with their local utilities, as well, to see if there are available incentives, as well as reduced electric rates for those who plan to charge their 2011 Nissan Leaf at off-peak hours.

Nissan has signed up with Aerovironment to handle charger installation and says it expects the average price tag to be between $2,000 and $2,500 – before incentives.  As for electric power, the company is projecting typical costs of around 11 cents a kilowatt hour, but in some communities that could be cut by as much as 80% for those who power up overnight.

How long will the lavish incentives be around?  The federal money is set to go away by mid-decade and it’s unclear, says Perry, whether the programs will be extended.  And with state and local coffers strained by the recession, those funds could dry up soon, as well.  But the critical thing, the product planner says, is to help kick-start the nascent battery car market.

Meanwhile, he says, Nissan is betting that as electric vehicles like Leaf get into higher-volume production, battery costs will come down and offset the loss of those incentive programs.

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One Response to “A Nissan Leaf for $12,000?”

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