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Nissan Confirms Slow Launch of Leaf Battery Car

Delays likely to continue through spring, maker says.

by on Jan.22, 2011

It could take awhile for delivery even if you've already placed an order for the Nissan Leaf.

A slow and cautious approach to rolling out the all-new Nissan Leaf could frustrate customers who’ve been waiting to take delivery of the market’s first mass-production battery-electric vehicle.

The Japanese maker has confirmed to that it has decided to slow the initial production ramp-up “to get it absolutely perfect and make sure there’s no perception the car isn’t ready for market,” said Nissan’s chief U.S. spokesman David Reuter.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that could lead to some frustration among anxious motorists – 20,000 of which have already placed preliminary orders for the compact, battery-powered sedan.  Since its launch, last month, U.S. deliveries have only been “in the 100s,” according to spokesman Reuter, who anticipated, “We’ll be getting up to normal production by April.”

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The challenge for Nissan is that it is working not only with an all-new product platform but with an entirely new powertrain technology, one that has never been put into truly high-volume production before.  One of the most difficult issues is ensuring that the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery pack comes out of the plant in shape to meet the demands of the automotive environment.