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An Update on My Nissan Leaf

May 03, 2011 4:24 PM ET1 Comment
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I called my local Nissan dealer yesterday with some trepidation, fully expecting to be told that my new all electric Nissan Leaf sedan was buried under tons of mud after Japan’s disastrous tsunami, and that I would now have to wait until 2012 for a delivery. I was pleasantly surprised when told that the car I have been waiting for 15 months for would only be delayed by another month, thanks to a shipping snafu caused by the earthquake. A ship is docking in Los Angeles next week with 125 leafs, and one of them is mine. With any luck, I should be behind the wheel by June.

I have been chronicling by odyssey to obtain a Leaf for the last two years, and final success could not be coming at a better time. Gasoline in the San Francisco Bay area is about to reach $5 a gallon. A full charge on the Leaf, which will take me 100 miles, costs $1.20, giving me an implied fuel cost of 24 cents per gallon.

Since the engine has only five moving parts, there is no maintenance cost whatsoever. Nissan has told me that in the first 100,000 miles my only expenses will be for tires and windshield wipers. The five passenger vehicle, which comes with an eight year warranty for its 600 pound battery, will cost only $25,000 after a $7,500 federal subsidy.

The delay will actually be beneficial for me because it has given Nissan time to find and fix a software glitch that kept it from starting. The company quit taking orders last year when the waiting list hit 20,000. It has resumed taking orders in the eight most environmentally conscious states (Texas is not among them), and is striving to shorten the wait time to 4-11 months. Drivers of the 500 Leaf’s already on US roads say the biggest problems have been crowds of people taking pictures at the shopping mall, and the absence of plug-compatible public charging stations. (the J-1776 standard was only agreed to in 2009).

By the way, I think Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) stock will be on my list of things to buy when we get the summer sell off. With global production targeted at 500,000 by the end of 2013, Nissan is going to own a market that every other car company wishes they were in.

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