That the Leaf hasn't been the success Nissan hoped for, is not a secret. This year through September, the Japanese carmaker delivered only 5,212 Leaf EVs in the United States, down 27.6 percent from the first nine months of 2011 when it sold 7,199 units.
Both these numbers are a far cry from the 20,000 Leafs Nissan wanted to sell in the car's first fiscal year on the market.
However, Nissan isn't sitting with its arms crossed waiting for a miracle to happen, as the company plans to add a lower-cost variant to the range as part of a 2013 model facelift, Autonews reported today.
Nissan hasn't said how much the new entry level model will cost. Currently, the company offers two models in the States, the $36,050 "SV" grade, and the $38,100 "SL", with both prices including destination. In the States, buyers are also eligible for a $7,500 U.S. tax credit.
Unlike the current model that is imported from Japan, production of the 2013 Leaf will shift to Nissan's U.S. factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, starting in December of 2012, with sales said to start in March of the following year.
The move will likely result in lower prices for the entire range as Nissan will not have to deal with the strong yen.
The car's batteries, which are said to represent a large chunk of the Leaf's cost, will also be produced in Smyrna at a new $1.4 billion plant with an annual capacity of 200,000 battery modules. These may be used in other future models as well, including an EV from Infiniti.