Nissan Motor has pledged that all those who preordered the electric Leaf will get the vehicle by the end of September. Nissan will ramp up production in Japan in March to meet the demand, according to Brian Carolin, Nissan's senior vice president for sales and marketing for North America, who spoke at the National Automobile Dealers Association annual convention.
He said that Nissan will build "thousands" a month so that customers get their cars “well before the end of summer." He added that he is confident that deliveries will start to significantly increase in April or May.
Nissan made the announcement shortly after General Motors Co. said it was more than doubling production of its plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt in 2011 and boosting its rollout nationwide to all 50 states by the end of the year.
The Volt and the Leaf both went on sale late last year. Through Jan. 31, GM sold about 650 Volts, while Nissan sold 106 Leafs in the U.S. GM said that it aims to sell about 10,000 Volts in 2011 and as many as 45,000 in 2012.
Carolin said that he has no specific sales target for the Leaf in 2011. The Leaf is the only mass-market battery electric vehicle that boasts a range of up to 100 miles on a full charge. While the Volt can get up to 40 miles on a single charge, it has a gasoline engine that generates battery power to take it farther.
Carolin revealed that so far, 20,000 people have put down $99 deposits to reserve a Leaf. He estimates that about four in every 10 of those making deposits buy them when it comes time to commit.
Carolin expects to sell "a few hundred" Leafs in February. But he considers it unlikely that Nissan will sell 20,000 Leaf vehicles in the U.S. this year. He said that instead of thinking of it as a numbers game, Nissan is planning to make its launch “absolutely perfect.” [via detnews]