By on March 17, 2010

Nissan has had a $25k target pricetag on its forthcoming Leaf EV for some time now, as it’s built hype towards the car’s commercial rollout later this year. That price will be crucial in taking on GM’s Volt EREV, which is said to retail somewhere in the $40k ballpark but offers a range-extending gas engine. got a little more detail out of Nissan execs, and reported back in November that

According to Brian Carolin, Nissan’s marketing executive for North America, the cost of the upcoming Leaf will be equivalent to the monthly cost of a fully loaded Honda Civic, plus the cost of its monthly fuel bill.  To simplify pricing Carolin broke it down as such, “That means the purchase price (about $28,000) or comparable monthly payment for a high-end Civic plus the cost of the gasoline it would need to cover 1,200 miles (at 30 MPG and $3/gallon, about $120.”

Well maybe the words of Carolin are not easy to decipher.  It appears as though he is trying to say that a Nissan Leaf will run about $120 more per month in payments if the vehicle is financed.

For example, if a fully loaded Honda Civic can be leased for $319 per month.  Adding in a monthly fuel cost of $120 brings the total monthly out of pocket expense to $439.  Nissan will either sell or lease the Leaf and its battery at that same price.

If that isn’t confusing enough, consider this: Nissan has just announced [via MarketWatch] that the Japanese-market Leaf will cost between 3.5m and 4m Yen ($38,661-$44,184). Of course, the US launch will coincide with US production at Nissan’s Smyrna facility, and that extra volume could help keep the price down. But will it really be $10k-$20k less than what the Japanese are being asked to pay? You’ll have to forgive us for being skeptical about that. Meanwhile, Nissan claims that 50k people have registered for ordering priority already (pre-orders begin in April), but they’re likely banking on a $25k price point. When real pricing comes out, it will be interesting to see how many of those folks actually sign up to buy the first mass-market EV on the American market.

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26 Comments on “How Much Will The Nissan Leaf Cost Anyway?...”

  • avatar

    3.5m and 4m Yen ($38,661-$44,184).

    Come on, you aren’t trying to do a straight JPY to USD conversion are you? That never works.

    A VW GTI in Germany is EUR 26,650 equal to USD 36,622. Does a GTI sell for 36,622 in the US? No.

  • avatar

    If it’s going to cost as much as a Civic plus gas, why not just buy the Civic?

    It will be interesting to see how important that $25k price point is to the pre-registered consumer when it’s launched. And what the “real” price is after tax credits, incentives, etc…

  • avatar

    So a $28k Civic (they really cost that much Out The Door pricing these days?) that get’s a pretty bad lease rate and spends $120 a month in gas (that’s 4-5 fillups) making it a $459 a month ownership /operating cost for a Civic. Not sure how this works but the low end Civic’s at one point could be leased for $159 / mo (pre-tax and options of course). I would not be surprised if the Leaf was lease only (reason why I’m including the lease rates for a Civic.

    But in all fairness – did Nissan include the cost of “fueling” up the leaf’s battery from the home outlet as they are including the cost of fueling up the Civic (how much higher would your monthly electricity bills go?). What about the occasional rental for when they go on day drips > 100 miles where the Leaf cannot do such and would need to be recharged for long periods before being ready for the next 100 miles.

    • 0 avatar

      But in all fairness – did Nissan include the cost of “fueling” up the leaf’s battery from the home outlet as they are including the cost of fueling up the Civic (how much higher would your monthly electricity bills go?).

      Probably nowhere near what the cost of gas is. Electricity is very cheap by comparison. Discussions of the Volt have hammered this home.

      What about the occasional rental for when they go on day drips > 100 miles where the Leaf cannot do such and would need to be recharged for long periods before being ready for the next 100 miles.

      This is a cost, but it’s not going to be a common one for the Leaf’s buyers. The Leaf has three, maybe four buying groups:
      * Government fleet (eg, municipal bylaw enforcement, parking officers, city staff).
      * Zipcar and similar car-hire services
      * Urban condo dwellers
      * Commuter cars for urban-village and near-suburb dwellers who probably already own a minivan

      Other than the third group above, rentals aren’t going to happen, and that third group tends to spend it’s weekends in the city anyway.

  • avatar

    Nissan is on the right track – you have to compare the cost to a ‘normal’ car during the marketing campaign. All consumers – except the hardiest tree-huggers – will do this.

    Interestingly, the Volt marketing never does this, since the ROI is terrible for it. The Volt’s approach is to emphasize the range extending engine, but ironically that is what ruins the ROI for the car.

    • 0 avatar

      ROI in a car purchase?

      Volt is in the market to allow people to buy a 40k car instead of a 100k car. 100k cars aren’t made by GM so any sell is good for them and buying a 40k car instead of a 100k car is always good ROI

    • 0 avatar

      What possible comparison can be made between a Volt and any $100k car? Or did you mean $10k (as in stripped Cobalt)?

    • 0 avatar

      @charly: You must be joking. The only $40k GM car I’d buy instead of a $100k car might be a used Corvette. Otherwise, they aren’t in the same market space.

      If GM seriously thought they were competing against $100k cars, they wouldn’t bother claiming 230 mpg and its utility in 40-mile commutes. I’m unaware of any $100k commuter cars, unless you’re counting the Tesla Roadster.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars are bought for status, not for what they can do. And there are plenty of 100k commuter cars. For example many Roll Royce

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    For reference, the new “insight” is <$2M yen in Japanese pricing.

  • avatar

    $28k US is too much. The rich won’t have one, the middle class is diminishing, and the working class won’t be able to afford it. $8k is more appropriate for a little box that will get blown off the road by semi’s and SUV’s.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m middle class, and I’ll do it for $28,000. Then, I drive a Versa (on the same platform, and about the same size, as the Leaf) and somehow manage to drive on the LA Freeways (including I-5) without getting “blown off the road.”

    • 0 avatar


      I think that you’re exhibiting your bias against small cars quite strongly here.

      Whether a Leaf is worth as much as a Civic+fuel is debatable, but to suggest that it should only cost $8k is ludicrous.

      Maybe we should all drive dually diesel pickups so that we don’t “get blown off the road”. (Actually, where I live, half the population does drive diesel 4x4s.)

    • 0 avatar

      “Working class” people routinely purchase $28k cars, and FYI, there aren’t any $8k cars on the market in the US.

      And I’m unaware of any news reports of cars “getting blown off the road” by other vehicles. That sounds like a reportable safety hazard that NHTSA ought to investigate.

      107 HP and 208 ft-lbs of torque will out-run many econoboxes available today, including my 05 xB, which has yet to be blown off the road. I wouldn’t be ashamed to drive a Leaf.

  • avatar

    For in-city and short-haul commuting work, I can see this working. It’s not an unreasonable amount of money, especially for people who have the income levels to live in more expensive urban environs. If I still lived in Toronto, I’d have been signing the papers on the pre-order list months ago,** as would at least ten or twenty people I know.

    If you live in a city and want a car, gas can be a huge deal. Even reasonably fuel-efficient cars like the Civic or Versa get poor mileage on the urban cycle: real-world is 20mpg***, often lower in adverse weather. Something like the Leaf makes this a complete non-issue; a decent chunk that you can spend on, eg, parking or insurance. The cost won’t raise an issue for these people.

    I’d expect charging to be less of an issue in urban environments, too. A power strip along the wall of underground parking garages that Leaf buyers probably frequent is an easy add for business and condo maintainers.

    You need to be in an (very) urban mindset for this car to work, and I think that most detractors aren’t in that headspace. For those who are, Ghosn is right in that Nissan is really the only company on the radar.

    ** I’d probably pick the Volt instead, but that’s a function of the once or twice-weekly >160km trips I have to do.
    *** with an automatic, which you will want if you have to suffer stop-and-go. Don’t even think about the kind of mileage a larger car will get.

    • 0 avatar

      Adverse weather aka cold weather effect the battery performance – search this site for cold weather battery and you’ll find plenty of articles discussing it. (for instance:

      In hot climates you’ll be wanting to run air-con which again will reduce range

  • avatar

    Ahh, there’s the Volt-bashing I was waiting for. When the Volt is discussed, it’s dismissed as a Cruze with a big battery, not worth $40K or even $20K.

    Now we have a Versa based car with nothing but a battery, and the price is barely questioned. Of course, an actual price has not been announced, really much like the Volt. There’s a whole lot of guesing going on here to know for sure. To be honest, the Leaf is more of a city car (in the purest sense) than a Volt. The Volt bridges the gap between BEV and EREV.

    Where I could see the extra cost for the two propulsion systems in the Volt, the Leaf is strictly BEV, with all of it’s characteristics. What ever happened to buying the chassis and leasing the battery? I guess we’ll see what the list prices of each are when they’re announced and then we’ll see which is the better value.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t dismiss the Volt if it was $20k, but it isn’t. The Volt and Leaf must be compared to other cars in their market space, whether you consider it economy cars, compact cars, commuter cars, price point, or whatever.

      Both the Volt and Leaf will compete against Civics, Elantras, and Cruzes.

      If you do any long-distance driving – and this is your only car – then the Volt is the only choice between the two. But if you’re strictly a local commuter with a place to plug in, the $40k Volt makes no sense whatsoever. “Value” will be based upon what each customer really needs.

      But if I want a $40k GM car that gets 30 mpg highway, I’ll buy a loaded Malibu or Regal rather than a Volt.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’m waiting patiently for the Volt to hit the dealer lots but it’s nice to see that Nissan is offering the Leaf. The ecomomics for the electric vehicle aren’t quite there yet, but I suspect both the Leaf and the Volt will still sell very well. And if gas goes above $4 a gallon Nissan & GM won’t be able to buyild them fast enough.

    • 0 avatar

      My conspiracy theory says that the price of gas may do just that – with the coordination of the US government (war with Iran?) – and help GM’s Volt succeed. Without high gas prices, the Volt could be a big failure.

      However, just as with Cash For Clunkers (which helped foreign automakers more than domestic ones), the Volt would not be the only beneficiary of high gas prices. Customers will still do the math, and most would probably buy an Elantra instead.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    The reality is the Leaf isn’t suitable in an urban environment at all. I live in NYC and would consider an electric car for my 60-mile roundtrip commute from Manhattan to Jerz two or three days each week. But then, the Leaf gives me only 40 miles wiggle-room. How would the distance be affected by using the stereo, heater, A/C, windshield wipers, or lights? My commute can be a half hour or it could be two hours. Unlike in ICE vehicle, taking advantage of these “luxuries” will greatly impact your driving distance. And cold weather greatly diminishes the battery charge. So this rules out the Leaf for anything except for brief trips and makes it absolutely impractical. I think that the Leaf will show that batteries alone aren’t going to cut it and that nothing else provides the power of an internal combustion engine as of yet. This is where the Volt is going to win-out.

  • avatar

    Zero emissions? Bullshiat. The electricity needs to be generated somehow…

    • 0 avatar

      Do you include gasoline plant emissions when talking about your car’s CO2 emissions, or the delivery truck that delivers the gasoline? No. And that’s why they don’t count electricity generation. That sign is about the car itself as an individual entity, and nothing else.

  • avatar

    I have lived in a large urban environment for quite a while (recently moved out). I still have friends there that absolutely LOVE the idea of an electric city car since they sit in traffic so much. The problem is they have no place to plug this thing in — they all park on the street. With an ICE car you only fear vandalism theft. With an electric card you’d have to rent a garage spot and get permission to use the electrical outlets. Common pricing is $100-$150/mo. Doesn’t that eat up the advantages of not having to buy gasoline?

    Also: we have (in higher end/more expensive places) deeded parking spots. Is saving a few $ on gas worth shelling out $50-75k for a deeded parking spot? This spot may not even have an electrical outlet either….it just buys you parking!

    On top of this, it is not uncommon to have a week + with the temperature mostly below 0F (-17C). How do these batteries hold up at those temperatures? What happens when these people switch jobs & reverse commute on the highway to the suburbs for 1-2 hours & leave tons of accessories running (heater in the winter, music, lights, etc)?

    How does the TOTAL cost compare to:

    1) public transport (Your car travelling in the same traffic as a bus isn’t necessarily going to get you to your destination faster, and it will be slower than taking the train at rush hour)

    2) A conventional ICE car

    I think there are still a lot of problems to be solved w/ electric cars, even for the “heavily urban” target market.

  • avatar

    I’m certainly interested in an electric commuter; I’m afraid I’m going to have to replace my old Civic eventually. (By ‘replace’ I mean that my son will be driving in a few years and I’d rather let him use my 20 year old beater than anything nicer, which will leave me needing a way to get around). Even $28K is a bit more than I’d want to spend; I don’t drive that many miles so I may have to wait for the technology to be refined and hope the price comes down sometime later.

    As for gas prices; all it takes is a couple of good GOM tropical storms to send us back to $4/gallon. It hasn’t been THAT long since the gas lines in the South after Ike (less than 2 years) and the massive price spikes after Katrina/Rita (less than 5 years). Odds are good something will disrupt supply again soon and we’ll be skirting $4/5 gas for a while before things get sorted out.

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