Its time for Tesla to watch its back. The electric vehicle startup has generated considerable excitement for the sort-of-affordable ($50,000) Model S EV sedan, scheduled to be released in 2012, but Nissan already has over 56,000 pre-orders for the 2012 Leaf EV—a $25,000 model that will have the advantage of being the first entry level-priced EV on the market.
The Leaf has some impressive stats: 100 miles on a charge with a top speed of at least 76 mph. The vehicle can be charged up to 80% of full capacity in less than 30 minutes with a quick charger, and can be charged in standard 200V outlets in about eight hours.
Nissan shouldn't get too comfortable with a top spot in the EV market quite yet. Coda Automotive is planning to release its own $30,000 EV with a 90 to 120 mile range in 2011. But Coda is a small startup and Nissan already has a household name. And unfortunately for Coda, most people in the market for an entry level sedan will probably opt for a name brand. Nissan also has Tesla beat in the size department—while Tesla can boast a big name, it doesn't come close to having the production capacity of Nissan. Of course, the all-electric vehicle market is still new, and there's plenty of room for competition. Companies like Tesla, Coda, and Nissan may be the innovators, but they won't be alone for long.