They Buy the Auto Electric: Nissan Leaf Is Sold Out for 2010


I liked reading this quote in the New York Times from Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn: “We wanted to do a zero-emission vehicle. I don’t want gasoline in the car, period.” Apparently, neither do a lot of you – Nissan announced last week that it has received 19,000 orders for its 100-percent-electric car, the Leaf, that it will start selling in the United States and Japan at the end of the year. That translates into no new orders, or SOLD OUT.

As Tonic mentioned on EcoSalon last Friday, the Nissan Leaf is scheduled to enter the market around the same time as the Volt, General Motors’ electric entry. But, unlike the Volt, the Leaf has no gasoline engine in it at all. This means it’s limited to a 100-mile range on a single charge. Evidently, this isn’t a problem for at least 19,000 drivers out there who put their money down to reserve one of these potential game changers.

Speaking at a gathering at the Detroit Economic Club, Ghosn said Leaf sales will be limited to certain areas in the United States where infrastructure already exists or is being created to support electric vehicles. (Hello, California!) This way the consumer won’t end up in “a situation where he buys the car and he doesn’t know how to charge it.”

Before you get too fired up about the Leaf, there are some obstacles to keep in mind, says AutoblogGreen’s Sam Abuelsamid. “So far, the orders are comprised of refundable $99 deposits, so it will be interesting to see how sales and orders hold up once people begin getting calls from dealers,” he writes, also noting 2008’s Smart ForTwo, “which also received thousands of orders before deliveries began – and we all know how well that turned out. While the Leaf will undoubtedly be a much more pleasant and practical car to drive than the Smart, it remains to be seen how customers will react once they get used to the real world electric range.”

After initially building the car in Japan, Nissan plans to assemble the Leaf and other electric models at a new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee starting in 2012. The automaker’s goal is to sell a minimum of 500,000 electric cars a year beginning in 2013.

Scott Adelson

Scott Adelson is EcoSalon's Senior Editor of HyperKulture, a monthly column that explores opening cultural doors to initiate personal change. He is also the author of InPRINT, which reviews and discusses books, new and old. You can reach him at