leaf-night1People lined up to see the Nissan LEAF on its 24-city tour of the U.S., which just reached its endpoint in New York City. Now, if they want a LEAF themselves, they’ll have to line up online.

In fact, they already are.

So, if you’re thinking you want a LEAF by this time next year — Nissan says the first LEAF will roll off the assembly line Dec. 1, 2010 — you might want to think about registering as having an interest in purchasing a LEAF at NissanUSA.com and then signing up officially for a LEAF in April.

According to Nissan, to date, nearly 50,000 people have registered to indicate interest in buying a LEAF. The carmaker says registrants will be given first priority to reserve a Nissan LEAF.

Nissan says it will begin a formal reservation process in April, shortly after it announces the price of the car, which is expected to be somewhere in the upper $20,000 to mid-$30,000 range — before a federal tax credit of $7,500.

The process will involve prospective buyers ponying up a refundable $100 reservation fee, which Nissan says will ensure that the buyer “will be among the first in line able to order a LEAF.”

Nissan says it will begin taking firm orders in August for deliveries for when sales begin in a buyer’s particular market.

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In a press release, Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares described the company’s plans for the LEAF rollout as an effort to make “the Nissan LEAF purchase process as effortless, transparent and accessible” as possible.

There had been speculation, and talk, that Nissan would sell the LEAF, but lease the battery pack. That won’t be the case.

Nissan now says consumers will either be able to purchase the LEAF outright, with the battery included in the purchase of the car, or that consumers would be able to lease car, with the battery pack as part of the total LEAF lease.

nissan-leafNissan will concentrate on pushing the LEAF out in select markets in West Coast states like Washington, Oregon, California, as well as in Arizona, New York, Massachusetts, and Southern Florida and Tennessee first.

However, those living in other places who are interested in purchasing a LEAF should contact their local Nissan dealer and indicate they would like to purchase a LEAF, says Nissan. The crucial point for those consumers will be whether a given Nissan dealer is certified to service a LEAF. If you live in a major metro area with many Nissan dealerships, and you really want a LEAF, you may want to try another Nissan dealership if the first one, two, or three you contact say they are not authorized to service a LEAF.

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