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March 31, 2010

JAPAN: Leaf sticker sparks EV price war

Nissan Motor's announcement yesterday of the price of its upcoming Leaf EV sparked something of a war, prompting Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) to cut the sticker of its considerably smaller hatchback i-MiEV by JPY619,000 (US$6,678; EUR4,963) to JPY3.98m ($42,935; EUR31,913), still above the JPY3.76m ($40,562; EUR30,148) starting price for the Nissan.

Nissan Motor’s announcement yesterday of the price of its upcoming Leaf EV sparked something of a war, prompting Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) to cut the sticker of its considerably smaller hatchback i-MiEV by JPY619,000 (US$6,678; EUR4,963) to JPY3.98m ($42,935; EUR31,913), still above the JPY3.76m ($40,562; EUR30,148) starting price for the Nissan.

MMC, which has been selling the environmentally friendly i-MiEV to companies, will commence marketing the vehicle to individual customers on Thursday (1 April, 2010).

Nissan said it aims to sell 6,000 units of the EVs in Japan in fiscal 2010, starting next month, and will also start taking domestic orders from Thursday, according to Kyodo News.

Nissan said the actual price consumers pay for a Leaf will be JPY2.99m ($32,255; EUR23,975), based on the assumption that the car will be eligible for JPY770,000 in government subsidies for EVs, while the price of the i-MiEV is expected to be lowered to JPY2.84m ($30,637; EUR22,772) with the new retail price if a subsidy is fully granted.

”We have aimed to sell EVs at reasonable prices from the early stage of development to help them become widespread,” Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama.

A senior Mitsubishi official, meanwhile, told the news agency MMC decided on the price cut as it took into consideration Nissan’s pricing.

Mitsubishi plans to sell 4,000 i-MiEV units in the domestic market and export 5,000 units in fiscal 2010. It has already received pre-orders for 2,000 i-MiEV units, including orders for 1,400 units from businesses.

Nissan aims to cut production costs of the Leaf by mass-producing the car in Japan, the United States and Europe from around 2012, Shiga added.

Shiga said the EV has ”enough competitiveness” when compared with petrol-powered vehicles, citing EVs’ low running costs as they require only electricity.

During six years of ownership, the electricity cost for the EV, if driven 1,000km per month, would total JPY86,000 ($928; EUR690), significantly lower than the petrol cost of JPY670,000 ($7,228; EUR5,372) estimated to be needed for a car of a similar class, Nissan said.

Nissan North America (NNA) priced the Leaf at $32,780 but said the car qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit and so its net cost will be $25,280. The average cost for a home charging dock plus installation will be $2,200 but both dock and installation are eligible for a 50% federal tax credit up to $2,000.

Using current national electricity averages, the Leaf will cost less than $3 to ‘fill up’, NNA said. Range is about 160km or 100 miles.

In Japan, Nissan will install 200-volt chargers at all its dealers nationwide totaling about 2,200 locations.

Of those, 200 dealers will be equipped with quick-charging facilities, the automaker said, adding it has developed a new quick charger that is almost half the current market price of such chargers.

The automaker also plans to market the low-priced chargers in Japan, it said.

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