Nissan Raises Price Of Leaf, Widens Rollout

DETROIT (AP) -- Nissan Motor Co. will more than double the number of states where it offers its Leaf electric car by this fall. But buyers will have to pay more to get it.

The base price of the 2012 model-year Leaf will be $35,200, up nearly $2,500 from the 2011 model year. Drivers can also lease the Leaf for $369 per month, up $20.

The 2012 Leaf goes on sale this fall. Buyers will still be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, which will lower the starting price to $27,700.

Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary said the price is going up because Nissan is adding some standard features, including a battery warmer, heated steering wheel and front and rear heated seats. Until now, Nissan has only sold the car in six warm states, including California and Hawaii, but it plans to start selling the Leaf in New York and other colder states this fall.

The company also will include a fast-charging port if customers opt for the SL trim level, which starts at $37,250. The port as a 480-volt outlet that charges the car in 30 minutes, compared to eight hours using a 220-volt outlet. The fast-charging port is a $700 option on the 2011 Leaf.

Nissan has sold 4,200 Leafs since the car went on sale last year. While deliveries of the Japan-made car were slowed after the March earthquake and tsunami, Zachary said Nissan is now producing Leafs at full capacity. All of the company's 2011 model-year vehicles have been allocated to customers.

Starting next week, the company is expanding the number of states where people can order the Leaf. Customers with existing reservations will be able to order cars in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C. In the fall, Nissan will open up ordering to customers in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. It plans to add Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island by the end of this year.

So far, Nissan is outselling its chief rival, the Chevrolet Volt, which can run in all-electric mode but -- unlike the Leaf -- has a backup gas engine in case the car runs out of power. In the first six months of this year, about 1,000 more Leafs had been sold than Volts.

GM is hoping to play catch-up. The company is boosting production of the Volt at its Detroit factory and plans to offer it nationwide by the end of this year. It's also lowering the price by around $1,000 to $39,995 for the 2012 model year. With the tax credit, that would be $32,495, or nearly $5,000 more than the Leaf. GM hasn't yet released the lease price for the 2012 Volt.