Business Insider reports that Nissan has recently unveiled the LEAF, an electric car scheduled to be released in late 2010. The estimated price tag is between $30k-$40k, and a lease on the battery for an estimated additional $10k. With a total estimated price of around $50k, it will not be able to compete in the market with the Tesla Model S, which is a much nicer looking car and has a longer range. Nissan does have one thing that Tesla does not, an existing manufacturing and distribution infrastructure.
The Tesla Roadster, even with its much higher price, has been back ordered since it was released because they cannot be manufactured fast enough. Because of Nissan’s existing infrastructure, barring materials shortage, they will be able to much more easily leverage the economies of scale and eventually reduce manufacturing prices. However, until they can reduce the sticker price, the car will not be successful.
Nissan has the potential for greater reach because of their existing dealerships, but if the value is not there, then consumers will not buy the LEAF. Tesla sales continue, not just because they are electric, but because they are desirable cars. Nissan will be able to manufacture more than Tesla, but at the same price, they are going to have a tough time selling something that looks like a Versa (MSRP ~$15k).