Bloomberg’s running a lede that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers at Nissan’s communication and customer service organizations this morning: “Nissan Motor Co. is aggravating the customers it needs most.” How so? According to the report
Nissan, which wants to become the top seller of electric cars, repeatedly delayed deliveries to some U.S. buyers who reserved the first 20,000 Leaf plug-in hatchbacks, according to interviews with customers. They said Nissan unexpectedly dropped some from the waiting list temporarily, asking that they reapply if they couldn’t prove they’d arranged installation of home- charging units that can cost more than $2,000.
Nissan has long admitted that the Leaf rollout would be a challenge, and the recent tsunami-related chaos in Japan hasn’t helped. But Bloomberg doesn’t quantify how many customers have been dropped due to their lack of charging system installation, other than to report that 45% of the 20k customers who reserved Leafs by last September have continued the ordering process. And it turns out that the delays aren’t irritating so much because of Nissan’s intransigence or lack of transparency, but because certain buyers stand to lose their California tax credit before their Leaf arrives.
With California’s $5k EV tax credit likely to run out of money in July (when it could be cut in half), consumers want their EVs now before they have to pay closer to the Leaf’s $33k MSRP (although a $7,500 US tax credit is not threatened, meaning the Leaf is fairly well-subsidized as it is). Nissan certainly won’t want to blame the customer for the Leaf’s slow rollout, but at the same time, if you’re banging down the automaker’s door because you’re going to get a $10k tax credit instead of a $12,500 tax credit, it’s hard to ask for too much sympathy. Especially considering Nissan is still digging itself out of one of the worst natural disasters in some time. Besides, as Alex Dykes’s Leaf review (parts 1, 2, and 3) proved, pure EVs require a certain amount of sacrifice…