From Fuel Efficient to Fuel Independent

By March 30, 2010Private Equity

Nissan Motor Co. announced today that its eagerly anticipated, 100% electric car, will cost just over $25,000 in the U.S. This move should benefit US consumers as Nissan’s rivals will be pressured to lower prices on similar vehicles. The Nissan Leaf, is a four-door hatchback which Nissan expects to hit US showrooms later this year.

At under $30,000 Nissan hopes to attract the mainstream car buyers to this 100% electric vehicle that can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge from a home outlet. Currently, General Motors Co., which also will begin selling its Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car later this year, said that it will look at Nissan’s pricing before announcing the Volt’s price closer to its December sales date. The Volt, can travel 40 miles on a full electricity charge before its small gas engine kicks in to provide power. Still other competitors, such as Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, also plan to introduce fully electric cars, but those will come out after the Volt and Leaf hit showrooms in December. The Volt and Leaf are the first two electric cars to go on sale that will appeal to the mass market.

Nissan says the Leaf will cost 3.76 million yen ($40,000) in Japan. It will price the car lower in the U.S. because it wants to sell more of them in that market. The automaker says it is confident it can still make money at that price. GM argues that the Volt is a better value than the Leaf because drivers don’t have to worry about running out of electricity, as the car’s gas engine gives it nearly unlimited range. Although the Volt can travel farther, GM will still compete with the Leaf on price, specifically among drivers who don’t drive that far or who have a second car for long-distance travel. The Leaf will appeal mainly to suburban commuters, a smaller market, because of its 100-mile range limit.

Overall, many analysts see the cars as the beginning of automakers trying to determine how to equip and market electric cars. With the strong success of Toyota’s Prius sales, the market for fuel efficient or fuel independent cars is widening, causing automakers to focus more of their attention on this growing segment.

Bill Malloy

Author Bill Malloy

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