YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co., struggling with the slow rollout of its Leaf electric vehicle, may face new allocation problems when it resumes taking now-frozen orders.
High demand for the car means Nissan is juggling planned output of 10,000 vehicles through March 31 against more than 27,000 orders in the United States, Japan and Europe.
Nissan has stopped taking orders and likely will be filling existing ones through the end of summer.
But the company hasn’t decided when the next round of orders will begin or what the allocation for various markets will be, COO Toshiyuki Shiga said. In the fiscal year starting April 1, Nissan will have capacity for 50,000 Leafs, but 17,000 will go toward orders already booked.
That leaves enough production for 33,000 new customers worldwide in the next fiscal year.
Nissan will resume taking orders sometime after “after we deliver enough volume to the first lot,” Shiga said in an interview today. And he conceded that balancing demand from different regions for the next fiscal year will be “a little tough.”
The 6,000 orders already placed in Japan are expected to be filled by the end of March. But completing U.S. deliveries will take longer -- fueling the ire of impatient customers there.
“I know that some U.S. customers are frustrated,” Shiga said. “But delivery is a little bit delayed because of shipping timing and deliveries to Japan.”
Leaf assembly lines will be added in Britain in 2012 and Tennessee in 2013.
Until then, the bottleneck will grow at Nissan’s Oppama assembly plant south of Tokyo, the only plant making the zero-emissions hatchback.
Shiga ruled out the possibility of bringing the Smyrna, Tenn., plant online earlier than scheduled to help alleviate the tight supply. Nissan can’t build the electric vehicles without their lithium ion battery packs. And construction of the factory making those, he notes, has just begun.