SMYRNA, TN-Nissan Motor has begun production here of its 100 percent battery-driven Leaf sedan.
Announcing Job One on the Nissan stand at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, NISSAN/RENAULT CEO Carlos Ghosn voiced disappointment in Leaf’s U.S. sales last year, 9,819 cars vs. a 20,000 annual target.
The charismatic CEO told Detroit interviewers he was pressing Nissan technicians at its tech center in Farmington Hills, Michigan to improve the Leaf battery’s driving range and recharge time ‘ASAP.’
The 80-mile range is below that of competitor’s hybrid subcompacts and is a “big barrier to sales,” Ghosn acknowledged.
“We see a potential for sales of up to 150,000 Leafs globally,” Ghosn said. “Our price of $35,000 in the U.S. is competitive when you include the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state credits.”
Ghosn confirmed that Nissan plans to introduce a lower-priced Leaf later in the model year, with charge time cut in half and battery range given a “substantial boost.”
The new Leaf S will be competing by year-end with all-electric subcompacts from Chevrolet, Prius, Ford, Chrysler and Honda. Nissan will continue to assemble Leafs in Japan.