This week’s electric car excitement (and some criticism) was about a non-Tesla product for once — the next-generation Nissan LEAF. As I wrote yesterday, the LEAF actually fits sort of nicely into a price point several thousand dollars lower than the Tesla Model 3 (or Chevy Bolt) while still offering approximately twice the range of an original Nissan LEAF.
The value for the money evaluation is always going to depend on the needs and desires of individual consumers — some will find the Model 3 a better offer and some will find the LEAF a better offer — and I discussed several of the factors influencing such an evaluation. However, one I almost brought into the discussion and decided to leave out was availability, or more precisely, when the cars will be widely available.
When the 2016 LEAF came out offering a range boost, it took longer than many of us expected to actually have one at a local dealership. So, the question popped into my head, “Will the next-gen 2018 Nissan LEAF be available in a month or so, or will it take several months to actually hit the market?” Well, Nissan seemed to hear my mind pondering this matter, as a fresh press release out of Japan tells us that production production of the new Nissan LEAF will begin in the USA (Nissan’s Vehicle Assembly Plant in Smyrna, Tennessee) and UK (Nissan Motor Manufacturing Ltd. in Sunderland, UK) “by the end of calendar year 2017.” (That’s surely an example of “cause and effect,” right?)
Ah, yes, that still leaves plenty of ambiguity. But does it? It’s September. With Nissan not being more bullish in this press release, I’m going to presume production won’t begin in September, and probably not even in October. Otherwise, why not state that production will begin this/next month? Assuming production begins in November or December, it seems likely that LEAF deliveries to dealers will be on a similar schedule as 2016 LEAF deliveries were and Chevy Bolt’s deliveries were — strolling onto lots in small numbers by the end of December and then ramping up slowly across the first quarter of 2018.
Along with the US and UK factories, the LEAF is also being produced at Nissan’s Oppama Plant in Japan. More details regarding Nissan’s manufacturing facilities can be found here.
One thing that might throw a small wrench into production ramping up is the fact that the new LEAF is the first Nissan vehicle to introduce Nissan’s advanced driver assist features to buyers — such as ProPilot. Presumably, there won’t be any issue ramping up production of this advanced tech, but it is a new playing field for Nissan.
By the way, for anyone wondering about the new LEAF’s batteries, here’s a further hint that Nissan hasn’t changed much about the source of its batteries for this generation of its record-selling electric car model: “Nissan LEAF batteries will continue to be produced in Smyrna, Sunderland and Zama, Japan.”