Raking up the Leaf

Seven months before it even goes on sale, the all-electric Nissan Leaf is sold out. The company started accepting preorders to select customers on April 20 and opened it to the general public on May 15. Ten days later, Nissan announced orders were full for this year—without anyone even test driving the thing.

Orders for the zero-emission car, which is expected to go 100 miles on a single charge, total 13,000 in the United States and 6,000 in Japan. The first Leafs are to be made in Japan with assembly in Tennessee expected to get underway in 2012. With five seats, a starting price of $32,780, plus a $7,500 federal tax credit, the Leaf is viewed as the first family friendly, relatively affordable, mass produced, all-electric vehicle.

The New York Times reported that Nissan expects to sell 50,000 electric cars in the United States, Europe and Japan in 2011. By 2013, it plans to produce eight different electric vehicles. The Leaf isn’t the only name in the electric game. General Motors will begin selling the Chevrolet Volt later this year for an expected $40,000. A battery-powered plug-in, the Volt does have a small gas engine to supplement the car’s expected range of 40 miles a charge. And battery-powered versions of the Ford Focus and the Tesla Model S sedan are also in the works.