Monday, December 13, 2010

Nissan LEAF Tier 2 Ordering Information

I just got off an hour-long chat with the eminently helpful Patrick at Nissan North America's on-line chat.  There not much new here but it helps to have the questions asked even if they can't yet be answered.  Truth be known, Patrick really wasn't able to answer any of the hard questions because he's quite low in the Nissan Totem Poll.  I would be thrilled to ask these same questions in a 1:1 with Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning and strategy, but this blog isn't big enough to get that kind of access, I'm afraid.  (At least not yet…)  None the less, I did find the interview informative and I include here a transcript for your own edification.  In summary, the LEAF is expected to go into general release by the end of 2011 in the U.S. and 2012 across the world, including Canada.  I couldn't get any answer for the delay in Tier 2 ordering, nor how many new reservations would be accepted once they open up again, though they will be universally opened.  Patrick could not even confirm the Fall / Winter 2011 ordering schedule for the Forgotten 36, though the 2011 deadline would seem to indicate this schedule is still in effect.  No news on 2012 model availability or changes or whether the Cold Weather Trim would be added or a 6.6kW charger option made available.  All in all, it doesn't leave us with many answers, but that's all I've got access to so take it for what it's worth:

Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick, so then I as I have not informed you of this intention until now, please consider everything we say from this point forward to be on the record. Just to confirm, the Tier 2 states of AL, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, and VA will be allowed to order a Nissan LEAF beginning late summer 2011, is that correct.
Patrick:
As I stated before we are advising the customer that it will be the summer of 2011. At this time we do not have a specific date.
Jeffrey:
And the model that will be available for order in summer of 2011, will that be the 2011 model year LEAF or the 2012 model year?
Patrick:
I do not have that information at this time Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick. I appreciate your candor. Now, as for the remaining 36 states which have not been given a chance to order, are they still scheduled for Fall / Winter 2011? What about Canada?
Patrick:
At this time we do not know how the delay in the Tier 2 states will affect the ordering in the other 36 states. We are anticipating availability for all 50 states by the end of 2011 but this could change. As for a Canadian release, We are at this time still expecting a global release by 2012.
Jeffrey:
Thank you, Patrick. I appreciate you're researching this information for me. Now, as far as the Tier 2 orders, are they likely to see a normal production turn-around of 1-3 months, or the current expected turn-around of 4-7 months?
Patrick:
We are still going to be advising an anticipated turn around time of 4 - 7 months, with 4 months being the best case scenario and 7 months being the worst case scenario. Of course the turn around time could change once the plant in Smyrna Tennessee comes on line in 2012.
Jeffrey:
Do you have a more precise time frame for the Smyrna plant coming on line? Will it be early 2012? Fourth Quarter?
Patrick:
Even if i did have an project time table for the plant to go on line it could change do to unforeseeable factors, such as weather, union strikes, etc.
Jeffrey:
Thank you again for your forthrightness, Patrick. Now, as I understand it, the District of Columbia is one of the EV Project selected cities. And yet, with the Tier 2 pushed back to summer 2011, it seems that even if Ecotality can set up the EVSE infrastructure in the region, Nissan won't have any cars available until at least, perhaps, December 2011. Is this correct?
Patrick:
I can not confirm that. A late summer order date of July would have some cars on the road in November.
Jeffrey:
I see. And as the earliest cars would likely be at best November, isn't that about the start of a new Model year?
Patrick:
I did not say that that would be the earliest Jeffrey, I was merely pointing out that it was possible to get vehicles on the road in Washington DC before the December 2011 date that you speculated on.
Jeffrey:
I see. But would you agree that there would be no cars SOLD in Tier 2 in July, August, September or October 2011, correct? Possibly in November, December or January 2011 but not any of the earlier months?
Patrick:
I cant say that either Jeffrey. Since i do not have a specific date in the summer of 2011, and June is in the summer, then there is a possibility of an October delivery date to that area. I will say that August does likely seem not possible.
Jeffrey:
Thank you, Patrick! I greatly appreciate you clarifying the issue. My point was therefore that if October, November December or January 2012 (sorry for the typo before) was the first month LEAFs would be delivered in Tier 2, wouldn't that normally imply a 2012 model year release?
Patrick:
Dependent upon your order month, your vehicle could be a model year 2012.
Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick. That makes sense. So, if we are to assume the Tier 2 group are to be ordering 2012 model year vehicles, is the 2012 model year going to include the Cold Weather Trim?
Patrick:
At this time we do not have information on the availability of the cold weather package. If it is to be determined by market demand, we do know that the demand is there.
Jeffrey:
Thank you. And is the same true for the current 2011 model year?
Patrick:
At this time the release date for the cold weather package will be announced in the future.
Jeffrey:
Thank you. What about the 6.6kW on-board charger? How about and even larger charger?
Patrick:
At this time we have not released any information in a larger charger to be included in the vehicle.
Jeffrey:
I see. And is it possible this may be added in the 2012 model year?
Patrick:
I can not speculate on the specifications of a 2012 model year.
Jeffrey:
So you don't know anything about potential changes for the 2012 model year?
Patrick:
That is correct Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Thank you, Patrick. Now, do you know when the new reservation window will open?
Patrick:
We do not have a date for the new reservations to open.
Jeffrey:
I seem to recall Spring 2011, is that correct?
Patrick:
We have been advising customers that want to make a new reservation that the reservations will open sometime next year as we do not have a specific date for them to open.
Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick. And do you know who will be allowed to reserve at that time? Will it only be opened to the Tier 1 and Tier 1a states (AZ, CA, HI, OR, TN, TX, WA) or will everyone be allowed to reserve?
Patrick:
As with our reservations this time, anyone will be allowed to reserve. The availability may be different for individual states.
Jeffrey:
Thank you, Patrick! And how many new reservations will be taken before they are closed again, or will they be closed?
Patrick:
I do not have that information Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Thank you for looking into this, Patrick. So what has the turn-around been up to now in the current Tier 1 and Tier 1a states? What percentage of reservations have been turned into orders among those that have been offered a dealer quote?
Patrick:
I would not have that information available with out looking at all the reservation and compiling that information.
Jeffrey:
I see. Has that been published anywhere? Is the information publicly available as an official turn-over ratio?
Patrick:
I do not believe that the information has been publicly released at this time Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick. And just to confirm, once the new reservation window opens, Nissan has no plans to close it based on any specific criteria, right?
Patrick:
I do not know that Jeffrey. We have not ye released the limits (if there are to be any) on the second round of reservations.
Jeffrey:
Thank you very kindly, Patrick. You have been very patient and forthcoming with me and I really appreciate that. Just a couple more questions from me, if that's alright, but these are going to be the hard ones.
Jeffrey:
Why was Tier 2 moved from December 2010 ordering to late Summer 2011?
Patrick:
Nissan is working hard to bring each customer the best possible product. Vehicle availability adjustments can be expected during new vehicle launch.
Jeffrey:
Do you know the reason for this specific change?
Patrick:
I do not have specific information available Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Do you know what, if anything, needs to change in Tier 2 to make it viable for the Nissan LEAF? Reservations in Florida don't require the cold-weather package and some residents in D.C. will qualify for the EV Project. Many states in the region offer EV incentives, such as Virginia's no Personal Property Tax on EVs or Georgia's $5000 rebate program. Power Utilities such as Dominion have either made changes necessary for the EV economy in North Carolina or are in the process of making them in Virginia. What more is needed from Tier 2, either politically or in terms of capital investment?
Patrick:
Each state is different and i would not be able to make a comment on that with out doing extensive research in to the readiness of each state's EV infrastructure.
Jeffrey:
Well, let's take Virginia, then. How is the Commonwealth of Virginia deficient?
Patrick:
I do not know the state of their EV readiness. As i said before with out doing research on that state any statement that i would make would be pure speculation.
Jeffrey:
I see. Now, as for the Cold Weather spec, isn't that supposed to be available on cars sold in Japan starting in April 2011? Surely the Japanese market has a need for this feature -- it gets quite cold during the Japanese winter. And if their time frame for release is April 2011, why isn't this feature also being offered on cars sold in the U.S. that also expect April delivery?
Patrick:
I can not comment on want is available for the Japanese market, as I only have information about the US marketed LEAFs.
Jeffrey:
I understand. And is the Oppama plant running to its expect quota at the moment? Has there been a slowdown in production below original estimates?
Patrick:
I do not have that information Jeffery.
Jeffrey:
So you don't know of any production issues at this time, right Patrick?
Patrick:
That is correct Jeffrey.
Jeffrey:
Thank you Patrick! That is all the questions I have at this time. You have been truly outstanding and I greatly appreciate your patience in answering all of my questions!
Patrick:
Do you have any questions about anything that we have discussed today Jeffrey?
Jeffrey:
No, Patrick. As I said, you have been outstanding and answered all of my questions and I appreciate being given the opportunity to share your helpful answers to the Affordable Electric Car NOW community.
Patrick:
Please feel free to visit our website often for updates about the Nissan LEAF, and encourage your friends to contact us with their questions. To help us improve our service, would you mind taking a brief survey? If you would like to do so, please click on the Exit Chat button below. Thank you again for contacting Nissan Electric Vehicle Customer Support
Jeffrey:
Please have a wonderful day, sir!

Visitor Jeffrey has ended the chat.