NASHVILLE -- As Nissan North America begins taking reservations for its electric Leaf this week, consumers in many states will discover the car will cost them much less than its $32,780 sticker price.
Several states have incentives that will apply on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit, which already brings the Leaf's price down to $25,280.
California and Georgia promise $5,000 rebates. Maryland offers a $2,000 tax credit for buying an electric car, and Louisiana offers a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost, up to $3,000, according to the Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center, a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
"There are a lot of offerings out there from states and municipalities," says Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning responsible for the Leaf. "Our mission is to bring them all to the consumer's attention."
A Nissan Web site will show those interested in buying a Leaf all the government incentives available in any location. Nissan dealers are expected to point out all local incentives when the sedan goes on sale in December.
There are also smaller incentives. Several states will provide tax refunds on the cost of installing a home charger. Some cities and states allow electric-vehicle owners to park free at public parking spots and street meters. Arizona will waive the car's vehicle registration fee, a savings of more than $600, and New Jersey will exempt the purchase from state sales tax.
Some of the incentives will require interpretation. For example, Illinois promises a $1,000 state rebate to buyers of electric vehicles. But it also offers a rebate of up to $4,000 to cover the "incremental" difference in the cost of an electric vehicle compared with a traditional car, according to the Alternative Fuels site.
The rebate assumes electric vehicles cost far more than gasoline-powered vehicles. But Nissan has priced the Leaf to compete with regular family sedans, which could negate an incremental rebate.
Nissan officials have been urging various states to update their incentive packages to reflect Nissan's pricing plan. "Nissan obviously doesn't want to be penalized for bringing our car in at a competitive price," Perry says.
There is also the challenge of timing. Some states, such as Oregon and Texas, pick up legislative or budgetary matters every other year and are not scheduled to consider changes before the Leaf goes on sale.
Oregon, which is partnering with Nissan to develop a recharging network there, gives residents a $1,500 tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle but makes no allowance yet for a pure electric.
Texas, one of Nissan's biggest markets, also has no provision for electrics yet.
Perry says that 111,000 hand-raisers have expressed an interest in the Leaf. He says it is too early to forecast how many of those will take the next step and put in a reservation to buy one.