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Nissan launches 2012 electric Leaf in more states

Nissan adds fast charging and a cold-weather package as standard features and raises the base price for all-electric sedan to $35,200.

2011 Nissan Leaf
The 2012 model year Nissan Leaf will be available in more states and include new standard features, including a cold-weather package and fast charging. Nissan

Nissan today launched the 2012 model of the Leaf electric sedan, adding more features and a bigger price tag starting at $35,200.

The automaker said it will start taking new reservations on August 4 for the 2012 model year Leaf and make it available beyond its initial launch market to new states in the southeast and Illinois.

The upcoming all-electric Leaf will come in two trim levels and make popular options of the 2011 Leaf standard. The suggested retail price for the SV trim is $35,200, which is $2,420 more than this year's model, and the SL trim is $37,250. The monthly lease is $369.

The SV trim will have fast charging, which allows the Leaf's batteries to get to 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes using a 480-volt direct-current charger. Both trims will have a cold-weather package, which includes heated seats and the ability to pre-heat the battery.

Those two features were the most requested from existing Leaf customers, Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America, said in a statement.

Nissan first launched the Leaf in seven states--Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington--but the car will now be available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. People with existing reservations can begin the ordering process on July 25, Nissan said.

In the fall, Nissan will make the Leaf available in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. By the end of the year, it will be available for order in Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Nissan increased the base price of 2012 Leaf by 7 percent, compared to the 2011 model. The price of the monthly lease went up $20 to $369.

Since its launch last year, the Leaf has emerged as the car with the best fuel economy rating at 99 miles per gallon equivalent and is the cheapest per mile to operate, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hybrids have the advantage of longer range, but the fact that the Leaf runs entirely on battery power is apparently attractive to electric-vehicle enthusiasts. Sales have outpaced the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid which was released around the same time. As of last week, 4,134 Leafs had been sold compared with 2,745 Volts, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Nissan says that the Leaf is designed for a 100-mile range on a full charge, but the actual range varies from 62 miles to 138 miles depending on driving patterns and weather conditions, according to the company. The cold-weather pack of the 2012 model should help address decreased range from cold weather by heating the batteries while the car is still plugged in.

EV drivers are eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits and state incentives.