First Major Shipment of Nissan LEAFs Arrives in U.S.

By · March 27, 2011

Luna Spirit

The Luna Spirit, loaded with 600 Nissan LEAFs, left Japan less than a day before the earthquake and tsunami devastated the island nation.

On March 18, Nissan stated that more than 1,500 Nissan LEAF vehicles were either in transit from Japan or at port in the U.S. This number includes the shipment of more than 600 Nissan LEAFs which left port in Japan on March 10, the day before the earthquake.

The arrival of the “Luna Spirit”, one of Nissan’s fleet of vehicle carrying ships—now docked and ready to be unloaded in Long Beach, Calif.—is a major breakthrough for electric cars in the United States. These 1,500 cars are the first major delivery of LEAFs to the U.S. and will put an order of magnitude more LEAFs on American roadways.

The Luna is just one of five ships that brought LEAFs from Japan to the US in March of 2011. The other ships are the Andromeda Spirit, the Bergamot Ace, the Hoegh Inchon, and the United Spirit. Together these ships are bringing more than 1,500 Nissan Leafs to America.

The Luna Spirit left Japan less than a day before the earthquake and tsunami devastated the island nation. This was enough time for the Luna to reach deep water before the tsunami caught up with her. There in the open ocean the tsunami would be traveling at 500 MPH. This high-speed massive energy wave harmlessly passed under the ship. The only visible sign at the surface was a three-inch wave.

After the vehicles are unloaded, these cars will be delivered to their waiting pre-order customers. According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA), as of February 2011, only 173 LEAFs had been delivered to the U.S.

This delivery will still leave plenty of folks with pre-orders still unsatisfied. However, with this delivery, Nissan will cross multiple milestones. The Toyota RAV4 EV was one of the most beloved EVs of the EV1-era of vehicles; only 328 RAV4 EVs were sold to the public. Tesla has produced a total of 1,200 of its wicked fast Roadsters. But now, production of the LEAF has surpassed both of these iconic electric vehicles.

Along with the prior 3,657 LEAF sales (mostly in Japan), this puts the LEAF over the 5,000 production mark—and makes the LEAF one of the highest volume production electric vehicles in history. And Nissan is just getting started.

Nissan LEAF

With the latest shipment, the Nissan LEAF will begin to make electric cara a more common sight on American roads.

Japan will be dealing with the impacts of the disaster for some time. In a March 20 press release, Nissan reported that they have resumed production of the LEAF in Oppama, Japan. However, rolling blackouts and supply chain issues will hamper production for some time.

If you are one of the lucky people scheduled to receive your LEAF this spring, then you only have weeks to wait. For the rest of the pre-order customers, the Japanese people are strong and resilient—the nation will rebuild and recover.

Final note: I’d like to express condolences to the victims of the earthquake and extend my sympathy to those still suffering from the aftermath. If you would like donate the relief effort you can do so at the Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org.

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