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Private-buyer interest in Nissan Leaf spikes

Turning over: The new Nissan Leaf small hatchback featuring with its 110kW/320Nm electric motor and a 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack will enter Nissan showrooms in Australia later this year.

More than 3000 private buyers express interest in forthcoming Nissan Leaf EV

11 Jul 2018

NISSAN Motor Company Australia (NMCA) says private-buyer interest in the second-generation Leaf electric car is ramping up quickly ahead of its launch later this year.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the official opening of the world-first Alliance National Distribution Centre in Truganina, Victoria, NMCA managing director Stephen Lester said the company had received more than 3000 expressions of interest from Australians for Leaf information.
“It’s only now that we really have this latent demand that can be seen beneath the surface and is slowly coming to the top,” he said. “I think it will be a sharp incline.
“In fact, we have over 3000 people in Australia that have already registered their interest for electric-vehicle information from us, so this is just a sign, knowing that we’re still a number of months away from the real launch, that is ramping up quickly.”
Mr Lester said the buyer mix for the new Leaf would more diversified than that of the previous model launched five years ago.
“This is something we really have to have in mind when we say ‘the markets not that big for EVs today, we can hardly see how many cars are being sold’,” he said.
“This is really not the case in true market opportunity because you’ve got different fleets, governments and all sorts of groups that will want to have a cleaner-energy vehicle, a vehicle that has a lower cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle.
“This will be realised through different things that your local governments are doing, businesses will offer, (such as) free parking for electric vehicles, green lanes.
“These are all things that will come up over the course of the next few years as cities, municipalities and governments work to change how our infrastructure and future mobility looks.
“It’s up to us to be on the forefront of that, and then, of course, there a lot of retail customers out there that are looking for this type of technology.”
Mr Lester confirmed that two Leafs had already been imported into Australia “to start getting this driving excitement and building activity around it”. So far, the EVs have been showcased to some fleet and government buyers.
“They’re absolutely just positive (reactions),” he said. “These are just getting underway now. We just got these vehicles two weeks ago into the country.”
“We launched it to employees, we’re taking them to some of our dealers and dealer advisory boards and things like that, and the fleet teams will start bringing them out very shortly to customers.
“It’s pre-empting on the one spot, as well as responding to the questions that are already coming into us.”
When questioned if these Leaf workshops have been able to convert interest into individual sales or supply contracts, Mr Lester stressed that was not their main focus.
“At the very end of the day it’s interest. As I’ve said to the team, it’s not just only about selling a Leaf, it’s about selling also the rest of our range, and Leaf is a complementary component to that,” he said.
“I don’t believe that this will all of a sudden yield 20,000 units of demand out of nowhere. It will take time to ramp up. This is the long play, and this is relevant for conversations now, as well as what will keep us relevant over the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
While the Leaf features several cutting-edge technologies, one in particular, is stimulating a lot of conversation, according to Mr Lester.
“We’ve got a really unique, world-class first feature with vehicle-to-grid (V2X) technology that allows us to take energy from the grid to the vehicle and vice-versa,” he said.
“This now becomes an opportunity for someone to take a different approach to the management of their energy, how they store it, use it, give it back.
“Nobody is heading back to the gas station to give back a few litres and take a few litres here and there, which is actually something you’ll be able to do with your vehicle going forward, and the Leaf has that today.”
Mr Lester reiterated that pricing for the Leaf was still to be finalised and would be announced closer to its launch. GoAuto expects it to kick off around $50,000 before on-road costs.
“I’m a true believer in market-based pricing, and we’ve got to figure out what’s going to be right for us in this market as we go forward, and position it as such so it meets consumer demand,” Mr Lester said.
“Just simply pricing based on outgoing, incoming, it’s not the right way from my point of view. We need to understand what that market looks like today versus what it looked like five years ago.”
For reference, the first-generation Leaf was launched in June 2012 with a sticker price of $51,500 before on-road costs, dropping to $39,990 driveaway before it was axed in May 2017.

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