Now that the Nissan Leaf is being made in Tennessee, Nissan has decided that a big price drop is in order. While the 2012 car retailed for $35,200, the 2013 Leaf starts at $28,800, thanks to a new base model. Anyone who bought a 2012 must be pretty ticked off at the resale-ruining price cut. Higher-end SV and SL trim levels will retail for $31,820 and $37,250 respectively.
The domestic production of the Leaf and its battery components undoubtedly help make the car cheaper, but one has to wonder how much of this is related to the Leaf’s slow sales and the general downward trend of EV enthusiasm. Past auto shows have featured a bounty of EVs in both concept and production form. This year’s NAIAS featured the Tesla Model X, which received far less fanfare than one would expect, and the Leaf was largely overshadowed by well, everything else, including Nissan’s own Versa Note subcompact.
One canard of the industry is that electric cars are still a decade out – and they always will be. Personally, I find it ironic that electric vehicles, derided as boring, appliance-like transportation for eco-weenies, deliver a very rewarding driving experience. They are fast, brilliantly packaged (look at the flat floor of a Nissan Leaf if you don’t believe me) and the ability to place the battery pack nearly anywhere can lead to excellent handling characteristics.
But issues like diminished performance in cold weather to a lack of charging infrastructure have confined EVs to playthings for affluent coastal dwellers. The question now is whether they will remain in this niche or not.