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Mike Stevens | Sep 24, 2010

Just over a year since its unveiling, Nissan has this week locked in its 20,000th North American pre-order for the its mass-production Nissan Leaf electric vehicle - a figure it had expected to hit in December.

With deliveries set to begin at the end of this year, Nissan of America has shut down the Leaf's US$99 reservation service, with no further orders to be taken until next year.

The five-seater Leaf will be officially launched in Japan, Europe and the US toward the end of this year. European orders are scheduled to begin in June.

Due in Australia in 2012, the Leaf is powered by an electric motor generating 80kW and 280Nm of torque, with a lithium-ion battery pack offering a driving range of around 160km per charge.

Preparing for the Leaf's arrival, Nissan Australia is discussing infrastructure needs with key Australian cities.

"We have begun infrastructure exploratory talks with the City of Sydney on what a roll-out of infrastructure might look like,” Nissan Australia's Jeff Fisher told TMR last year.

“We are also talking to the City of Melbourne. This needs to move relatively quickly; 2012 is not that far away.

"Having the right infrastructure in place, as well as strong product offerings, will be a key confidence factor in winning consumers over to these vehicles,” he said.

While Government subsidies and rebates in overseas markets are expected to help keep the price of the Leaf relatively low, the Australian Government has confirmed that it will not look to offer similar deals.

Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said that the Federal Government believes the way forward lies in the development of existing technologies for petrol, diesel and LPG engines.

''Over the next decade, the most rapid and cost-effective way of improving fuel economy and building more environmentally effective cars is to adapt technologies that are being deployed now,'' Mr Carr told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Leaf will be built at Nissan plants in Japan, the UK and the US, with Australian-delivered models likely to come from Japan.

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