Despite the lack of infrastructure, Nissan has already received an amazing 6,000 Leaf orders in Japan and a further 20,000 in the United States for its zero-emissions car. In fact, the company has received so many orders that it would not be able to keep up with demand in the future, so it decided not to take them any more.
"We believe this will be the beginning of the new era for the world's automobile industry, as well as a sustainable low-carbon society," according to Nissan Chief Operating Officer, Toshiyuki Shiga.
The launch of the Leaf follows similar moves from Mitsubishi Motors and Subaru, who have released the i-MiEV and Plug-in Stella electric cars last year. Japan’s other two automobile giants, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co, are playing it safe, hedging their bets with hybrids until EVs have a greater presence on the market.
"Japan's big three all need to join to develop the market. This is the likely scenario which will bring down high EV prices and help EVs become more common,” said Shigeru Matsumura, an automotive analyst for Japan’s SMBC Friend Research Center.
In a recent interview given to The Japan Times, Matsumura said he believes that the high price of EVs and the lack of recharging infrastructure are the biggest hurdles to profitability the major automakers face. He also believes that market is unlikely to flourish unless Toyota and Honda get in on the act: "Japan's big three all need to join to develop the market. This is the likely scenario which will bring down high EV prices and help EVs become more common.”