NASHVILLE -- Nissan is adding the Leaf electric car to its certified used-vehicle program, a move aimed at reassuring consumers who are considering whether to buy a secondhand battery-powered car.
It also will help reassure shoppers looking at a new Leaf, says Erik Gottfried, Nissan's director of electric vehicle sales and marketing.
Nissan began badging used Leafs as certified used vehicles this month. Nissan started selling the Leaf, the first mass-market EV, in December 2010. Cumulative sales have totaled only about 33,000 units.
"In this space, confidence is important," Gottfried says. "This is still something new in the industry. So we want to provide confidence for new-car buyers and used-car buyers."
As certified used vehicles, used Leafs have fewer than 60,000 miles on them, have undergone a 167-point inspection, had their electric system and powertrain warranty extended to 7 years/100,000 miles, up from 5 years/60,000 miles when new, and received a Carfax vehicle history report with 90-day buyback guarantee.
Nissan dealers are offering 0.9 percent/36-month factory financing on certified used Leafs, and are providing three free months of satellite radio.
Gottfried says that reassuring consumers the Leaf's value will hold up will help new-car sales. Nissan this year cut the price of the 2013 Leaf by $6,400. Gottfried says the brand is doing a brisk business selling the highest priced packages on the car.
Starting this year, Nissan made the Leaf available in an SL model with a premium package that includes leather seats, Bose audio equipment and other electronics. That configuration, which carries a sticker price of more than $36,000, represents a fourth of Leaf sales, Gottfried says, compared with the base model price of $29,650, including shipping.
"The new-car buyer wants to know that they can afford the vehicle and the battery will not degrade beyond a certain level," he says. "And the same issues exist for used-car buyers as well."
Gottfried says Nissan has been studying data from the Leaf for the past two and half years to evaluate what normal wear-and-tear looks like on an electric car and what special attention it requires to be factory certified.
The Leaf has a unique lithium ion battery propulsion system and lacks many traditional auto parts, such as an engine, oil pump, radiator, fuel lines and gasoline tank.
"We want to confirm the value of the vehicle for its life cycle," Gottfried says. "The more we can give confidence that we're standing behind it, the more it benefits everybody."