Richard Todd has waited six months for his new Leaf. The latest Nissan model runs entirely on electric.
Todd says, “I’ve always wanted an electric car. I love the technology, I think it’s very important to encourage the manufacturers that if they produce these cars people will buy them but also there’s a big environmental plus here. There’s no local emissions and the power that’s generated is much more efficient.”
Over the next 2 weeks more than 300 models will be released across Britain. But future customers may have a longer wait.
The Leaf along with many other Nissan models is made in Japan. The three major Japanese carmakers, Toyota, Honda and Nissan were forced to halt production temporarily after the recent quake and tsunami. Now there are fears companies could run out of parts.
Paul Willcocks is Nissan’s European boss. He says, “The issue for us in Japan at the moment is production facilities are pretty much OK we have one engine plant that is not resuming production all then other factories are pretty much online. The issue though for us which is very uncertain is over the supply chain not only tear 1 supplies so the component supplies but also the suppliers to those supplies the tear 2 supplies we’re not completely certain. So in the short-term we don’t believe there will be much disruption, mid term we’re still assessing the position and obviously we may need to resource.”
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The carmakers could lose up to $1 billion dollars because of disruption to the supply chain.
Nissan say it’s business as usual but Toyota has ceased production at 12 of its main assembly plants in Japan. And Honda says it won’t resume production until mid-week Wednesday.
US automaker General Motors is also affected. It’s considering cutting back on weekend work and overtime.
Customers who ordered a Japanese-made Leaf more than six months ago will get their cars. But new orders could be delayed.
Willcocks says, “We have probably around 6-8 weeks worth of supply. It’s very difficult for us to foresee what impact there could be all I can say is in the short term we don’t foresee any impact in terms of the plant in Sunderland, midterm it’s very difficult to say until we have a full assessment on supply chain, a full assessment on our supplies capabilities to bounce back then its very difficult for us to give an indication of what may or may not happen.”
At 25 thousand pounds each (or about $40,000), the Leaf isn’t cheap. But they only cost two pounds ($3.25) to fully charge and with oil prices rising as a result of attacks on Libya by western forces it could be about to win a new set of fans.
Bottom line: The first UK customers for Nissan’s new electric model collected their vehicles from showrooms amid talk about potential further disruptions to the supply chain in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.