Nissan Passes 5,000 Electric Car Sales, But What About Tennessee?

By · August 11, 2011

First LEAF owners in Tennessee

In December 2010, Nissan delivered the first Nissan LEAF in Tennessee, to the Heeren family in Nashville.

There are now more than 5,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars on American roads.

Nissan spokesperson Katherine Zachary told PluginCars.com that the company passed the milestone yesterday. The pace of LEAF sales so far in August is roughly on pace with sales in July, in which Nissan reported 931 electric car sales.

The cumulative tally of LEAF sales at the end of July was 4,825—with 4,806 taking place in 2011, and 19 sales carried over from December 2010.

The 5,000 milestone is a positive sign that Nissan is finally working down its list of backorders on a nation level. Demand continues to outstrip the supply of electric cars, especially in hot electric car markets such as California.

Back on the Home Front

Given the 5,000 total, and the fact that California represents most of those sales, it’s not surprising that fewer than 1,000 LEAFs have been sold so far in Tennessee. That relative slow pace of sales in Tennessee prompted Ecotality to announce today that $2,500 rebates are still available for the first 1,000 EV Project participants in Tennessee who purchase a Nissan LEAF SL model with DC Fast Charge capabilities. Nissan’s Zachary said that about 85 percent of sales for 2011 Nissan LEAFs have included the Fast Charge inlet.

ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project and will oversee the installation of approximately 14,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 18 major cities and metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia.

Nissan does not break out LEAF sales on a state-by-state basis. But it might take a while for Tennessee to give away the millions of dollars allocated to promote electric cars. The state of Tennessee announced in September 2010 that $2.5 million had been budgeted for the rebates that are distributed at the point of sale and credited against the purchase price. The state rebate complements a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for the electric vehicle purchase.

Tennessee is an original pilot market for the Nissan LEAF and The EV Project, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. While Tennessee doesn’t seem like a natural to be included in the pilot market, the state is the North American home for Nissan. In late 2012, the Nissan LEAF and the lithium-ion batteries that power it are slated to be built at Nissan's manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan is constructing an all-new, state-of-the-art battery plant with an eventual annual capacity of 200,000 battery packs. The LEAF will be built at the Smyrna Assembly Plant, alongside other Nissan and Infiniti models.

"We're working hard to create a business-friendly environment in which companies like Nissan can grow and create jobs," said Molly Cripps, Energy Division director, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. "Offering the rebates for EV participants is one way we can help support an existing Tennessee business and encourage future economic growth."

So, Tennessee is on track to become the nation’s capital for electric car production. But it remains to be seen if local production will be enough—along with strong purchasing incentives—to make large numbers of Tennessee drivers ditch their gas-powered vehicles and switch to an electric car.

New to EVs? Start here

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