2014 Nissan Leaf to get $180 price hike

Sales of the battery-powered Leaf jumped 130 percent last year. Pictured is the 2014 model.

UPDATED: 1/8/14 4:52 pm ET - new story

NASHVILLE -- Nissan will only slightly increase the prices for its electric Leaf for 2014, adding $180 to the sticker price of each of its three trim levels, the company said today in a statement.

The 2014 Leaf S will retail for $29,830, including destination, up from $29,650 on the 2013 S.

The 2014 SV model will list for $32,850, including destination, and the higher grade SL model for $35,870.

The prices do not include the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs.

For 2014, Nissan will make the car’s rear-view monitor system a standard feature on all trim levels. In the past, it had been part of an optional tech package.

Nissan has been trying to hold down its retail prices in a bid to improve the brand’s appearance on vehicle shopping search engines. Last May, the company made across-the-board cuts on prices to make its models more price competitive.

The Leaf experienced a more dramatic price reduction at the start of 2013, but that was principally due to the creation of a less expensive trim package, made available for the first time when Nissan when Nissan started built the electric car in the United States last January.

Monthly Leaf sales have been steadily increasing since its U.S. production launch. But its Smyrna, Tenn., factory is still in cautious ramp-up mode.

Ghosn optimistic

Earlier today, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he expects to double Leaf sales in the United States.

Sales of the battery-powered Leaf jumped 130 percent last year to a record 22,610, aided by 2,529 deliveries in December, the most ever in a single month for the carmaker. That figure should keep rising, Ghosn said in a CNBC interview.

"We are now on a trend of 3,000 cars a month in the U.S., which is about 36,000 cars" a year, Ghosn said. "The next step is moving up to 4,000 a month, which is going to be approximately 50,000," he said, without setting a target date.

Nissan and other automakers delivered a record number of hybrid and rechargeable cars and light trucks last year as the industry remains under U.S. pressure to boost fuel efficiency. Sales of vehicles powered partially or entirely by electricity totaled at least 578,000 units last year, up more than 100,000 units from 2012 and accounting for about 3.7 percent of all new autos sold in the U.S. last year, based on sales figures compiled by Bloomberg and estimates from Autodata Corp.

While California was initially the car's biggest market, sales in Georgia and other parts of the south have lifted sales in the past four months, Fred Diaz, Nissan's U.S. senior vice president, said in an interview last week.

Toyota Motor Corp., led by its Prius hybrid line, was the top seller of electric-drive autos, delivering 344,892 last year. Ford Motor Co.'s sales of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-only autos jumped 146 percent to 87,776, while General Motors Co.'s line fell 15 percent to 48,724 in 2013.

Hyundai Motor Co. with only a single hybrid model, a version of the Sonata sedan, sold more than 22,500 units last year, surpassing 20,616 deliveries for Honda Motor Co., which has eight electric-drive autos.

Lindsay Chappell and Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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