At a recent groundbreaking event in Smyrna, TN, Al Castignetti, Nissan’s division vice president, discussed the company’s market research. Per data collected by Nissan on the 130,000 Leaf buyers to date, “over half” have owned a Toyota Prius.
Does that make them turncoats or early adopters? Per Castinetti, “It tells us that there is a segment of eco-friendly consumers who are interested in going to the next level. They own a hybrid vehicle. But if the next step is available, they want to take it.”
There’s no word on whether Prius-owning Leaf buyers will keep their hybrids or ditch them for the Leaf. As with any electric vehicle, the Leaf has limited practicality for longer drives, as it requires charging every 100 miles or so. Nissan dealers will be required to install charging stations for Leaf customers (two at smaller dealerships, three for most and four at larger dealerships), but there’s no decision yet on whether or not charging will be a free service. If Nissan decides to give away free electricity, I can see Leaf owners lined up like gasoline seekers during the first fuel crisis. The good news is that Leaf buyers don’t seem prone to rioting.