Will LEAF leapers in ‘Forgotten 36’ wait until 2013?

leaf-crowdeditors-blog-entry3So, let’s see … back in April 2010 I plunked down $99 to reserve a Nissan LEAF from Aurora, Colo.

Little did I, and thousands of others unlucky enough to be living in so-called Tier 3 states, know that we were just suckers — suckers Nissan apparently needed to sucker into believing that we would actually see a LEAF in our market by the fall of 2011, a full year and a half after we reserved one. This “suckering” all so Nissan could gauge U.S. market demand for the LEAF.

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Now, after Nissan has played us for saps for well over year, all the while playing a ridiculous language game in which you really have to pay attention to the difference between “reservation”, which means nothing, and “order”, which means everything, I have finally realized the following reality:

We, those of us in the so-called Tier 3 states, often referred to angrily, but also accurately, as the Forgotten 36, will very definitely not see LEAFs on local dealer lots in 2011. This despite the fact that, by the end of 2011, Nissan will have coyly teased us into thinking we might, just might, see a Nissan LEAF in 2011 for well over 1 ½ years.

Smyrna plant delays
It gets worse: If you follow media coverage of the LEAF, there are more and more rumblings about Nissan’s planned Smyrna, Tenn. plant, which supposedly will one day crank out 150,000 LEAFs per year and which was slated to open sometime in 2012, perhaps not opening in 2012 after all.

But wait, what does Smyrna have to do with me, I who reserved a LEAF in April 2010 from a Tier 3 state, getting my LEAF?

Well, if you read between the lines — as Nissan’s treatment of reservations holders, especially those in the Forgotten 36, has conditioned many of us to do, it sure seems like Nissan is trying to create some wiggle room for the possibility that LEAF reservers in the Forgotten 36 might not see their LEAF until — drum roll please — 2013!

Nissan LEAF Tier 1 & Tier 2 states:
leaf-tinyWhere do the lucky LEAF leapers live, you know, the ones who will allegedly all see their LEAF by the end of 2011? Here’s the list:

Tier 1 States (LEAF already being delivered): Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Tier 2 States (LEAF delivered by the end of 2011): Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C.

Yes, that’s right, 2013, more than three years after thousands of us in non-rollout states put down $99 for what is increasingly appearing to be a thoroughly meaningless reservation to ensure we’d be one of the “first” in the U.S. to get a LEAF.

Meaningless reservations?
Don’t believe me — check out this excerpt from a recent article about LEAF production at CNET.Com — and, of course, pay close attention to the word “order”, which, again, means everything, and notice the total absence of any reference to the word “reservation”, which means absolutely nothing:

“Company officials have said they expect to deliver 10,000 to 12,000 Leafs in the United States in 2011. Nissan has so far taken about 7,000 orders for the vehicle and expects to have those orders filled by the end of summer. It is taking orders in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Texas.

This summer Nissan will begin accepting orders in Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Nissan’s goal is to be selling in all 50 states by the time production begins in Smyrna.

See how Symyrna is being linked to when you, I, and the thousands of others in the Forgotten 36 get our LEAFs?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if the Smyrna plant doesn’t open until 2013 and Nissan’s new goal — it always seems to be shifting, doesn’t it? — is to be selling LEAFs in the Forgotten 36 by the time that production in Smyrna begins that, you got it!, some of us, maybe many of us, or, who knows, maybe all of us living in the Forgotten 36 and who naively, and excitedly, reserved a LEAF in April 2010, won’t get our LEAF until 2013.

That’s pretty unbelievable, isn’t it?!

Colorado man doesn’t wait for his LEAF
leaf-redSteve Hawkins lives in a Tier 3 state, Colorado. But he wasn’t willing to wait, perhaps up to two more years, for a new Nissan LEAF.

Since the car’s introduction, Hawkins, the general manager at the Mountain Haus lodge in Vail, Colo., had been in contact with dealers on the West Coast, hoping to buy a LEAF, but not willing to pay the several-thousand-dollar premium some dealers were putting on the car.

A couple of weeks ago, Hawkins heard from a dealership in Portland, Ore. A buyer had cancelled his LEAF order, and the dealership was willing to sell the car to Hawkins at its sticker price. The deal was done, the car was loaded on a truck and shipped to Vail.

Nissan, media, ignore Forgotten 36
Makes you wonder why you, I, and others in those states that Nissan doesn’t seem to care much about and, frankly, about which the media don’t seem to care either — when’s the last time you saw a piece in any media outlet about Nissan’s treatment of people who reserved a LEAF from non-rollout states? — even bothered to plunk down our $99.

About two months ago, I wrote an entry about how the Ford Focus Electric, which Ford is saying will arrive in 20 U.S. rollout markets by sometime in 2011, might beat the LEAF to market in five U.S. cities — Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York.

Back then, I didn’t really believe the Focus Electric would get to these cities before the LEAF. But the more I hear from Nissan and the more I read about the LEAF and its glacially slow rollout, the more I’m thinking there’s a very real possibility the Focus Electric will in fact beat the LEAF to market in those places — assuming, of course, that Ford doesn’t pull a Nissan on us, which it could.

Tired of being a sucker for Nissan
I don’t know if you’re lucky enough to live in a Focus Electric rollout market — we are. I hope you are too because unlike some LEAF buyers, who, frankly, have pissed me off by ignoring or patronizing the rest of us not lucky enough to live in the privileged LEAF rollout areas (see some of the posts on MyNissanLeaf.Com for examples of this), I feel for EV lovers living in markets being ignored by the major automakers.

There’s little doubt in my mind: If Ford does indeed beat Nissan to market with an EV in Denver, for us, it’s goodbye and good riddance to Nissan and hello Ford!

I’m tired of being a sucker for Nissan.

Aren’t you?

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