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Nissan to Introduce Lower-Priced Leaf

Less expensive model to debut after launch of US production.

by on Oct.09, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Leaf debut.

Hoping to sharply boost demand – while also taking advantage of its new, lower-cost U.S. production base – Nissan plans to introduce a lower-priced version of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle next year.

The move will follow the December 2012 launch of production of the Leaf on a new assembly line at the sprawling Nissan manufacturing center in Smyrna, Tennessee.  Currently, the battery car is imported from Japan – which means it is subject to lopsided exchange rates penalizing the Japanese yen.

Cutting the price could prove critical to near-term sales, as well as the long-term viability, of the Nissan Leaf. After a moderately strong start in 2011, sales have taken an unexpected dive this year.

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The new model will feature far less content, “though this is not a stripper,” according to a well-placed Nissan source.  That translates into no navigation system or HID headlights – features normally not found in the segment a vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf would normally compete in were it not for its unique battery drivetrain.

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Ghosn Disappointed by Current Battery Car Sales – But Still Sees Upbeat Future

“We will be patient.”

by on Sep.28, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, shown with the Nissan Leaf during its public debut.

The floor of the Paris Motor Show is covered with an array of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, the latter ranging from the little Nissan Leaf up to the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive.

But barring a sudden shift in consumer sentiment, demand for battery-based products has filed to charge up the sales charts. That’s particularly true for the Leaf, which has experienced an unexpectedly sharp decline in demand in the critical U.S. market this year.

The Last Word!

Asked whether that worries him as Nissan prepares to open a new Nashville assembly line for the Leaf, the maker’s CEO Carlos Ghosn responded that, “If you ask a CEO if he is disappointed in the level of sales, you are always going to get “yes” for an answer.”

But the Brazilian-born executive, who also serves as chief executive of Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault, insisted that rather than panic, “We will be patient.”

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