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Wednesday, August 20, 2014         

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Lone car marks isle start of Leaf

Strong demand for Nissan's all-electric car is far outpacing supply, company officials say

By Alan Yonan Jr.

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Nissan had been promising for months that it would roll out its long-awaited, all-electric Nissan Leaf in Hawaii starting in January.

The company met its commitment yesterday -- just barely -- delivering a single car to a Honolulu man on the last day of the month.

Nissan executives have said initial production of the Leaf was insufficient to meet the strong demand for the car in the U.S. Nissan capped its reservations at 300 in Hawaii and 20,000 nationally after realizing it might not be able to meet demand.

Hawaii had the highest number of reservations per capita of any market, according to Nissan.

There is no firm timetable for delivery of the remaining vehicles that have been reserved, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

"We are at full capacity at our plant in Yokohama and by spring expect to be delivering Leafs in volume in all markets, including Hawaii," said Katherine Zachary, a company spokeswoman at the company's North America headquarters in Tennessee.

Zachary said the company expects to reopen reservations for the Leaf sometime "in the first half of this year."

"Like any ramp-up of a new product, it is starting up slowly," she said. "We're trying to satisfy global demand."

All the customers in Hawaii who made reservations have been put in a queue and are being contacted by Nissan to place an order as production permits, said James Moniz, Nissan district operations manager for Hawaii.

"We're still in the early stages of taking orders. A good percentage have yet to place an order," he said. Customers should receive their vehicle from four to seven months after placing the order, he added.

Nissan last fall announced that Hawaii was one of the first seven U.S. markets where it was launching the Leaf. Top officials from Nissan held a media event at the Hawaii Convention Center in September that included test drives by Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

Nissan has selected California-based AeroVironment to oversee the installation of home charging stations for the Leaf. AeroVironment, in turn, has contracted Honolulu-based photovoltaic installation company RevoluSun to handle installations of the 220-volt, 40-amp charging stations.

The Leaf carries a suggested manufacturer's retail price of $32,780. A $7,500 federal tax credit and $4,500 state tax credit drop the effective price to $20,780.






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