Nissan cuts price of electric Leaf

Nissan said Monday it would slash the price of its pioneering all-electric Leaf sedan to boost sales, after a disappointing 2012.

The company announced at the Detroit auto show that the price could drop as low as $18,800, depending on local credits for fuel-saving cars, down about $6,000 from the previous price.

"From the very outset, Nissan has continuously advanced and refined the affordable zero emissions vehicle ownership experience," Billy Hayes, Nissan's global vice president for Leaf sales, said in a statement.

"Now, customers won't have to pay a premium for owning a green car that's really fun to drive, and that's exciting."

The company has sold over 50,000 units of the Leaf, but sales last year grew only 20 percent, well below the planned 50 percent growth.

In the US market, they missed by much farther, with sales creeping up only 1.5 percent to 9,819 units, compared to the goal of doubling sales.

"It was a disappointment for us but we know why," said Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn.

"Some of the reasons are due to us and we are correcting them. Some are not due to us and we are lobbying to erase them."

The sticker price on the Leaf will start at $28,800, which Nissan said will make it the lowest-priced five-seat electric in the US market.

But given various discounts that states can give for electrics and hybrids, the price could be $10,000 below that.

The company is now assembling the Leaf at a US plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the battery packs are built nearby.

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