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Nissan CEO Wants at Least 20% Leaf Gain With Cheaper Car

Carlos Ghosn, who leads Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, said he expects global deliveries of all-electric Nissan Leafs to expand at least 20 percent this year aided by the addition of a lower-priced version.

The company today said the new S trim version of its rechargeable hatchback will have a $28,800 base price when it goes on sale this year. Prices for its current SV and SL grade cars for 2013 will be $31,820 and $34,840, respectively, the company said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, sold 9,819 Leafs in the U.S. last year, less than half of Ghosn’s 20,000 goal. Ghosn cited limited charge infrastructure as one reason for the result and declined to set a specific sales target for the lithium-ion powered hatchback

“You can expect them to be up,” Ghosn told reporters today in Detroit. “It would be fair to say” that Leaf should post at least a 20 increase, he said.

Base prices for the 2012 SV and SL Leafs are $35,200 and $37,250, respectively, before a $7,500 federal tax credit, according to Nissan’s website.

He said the company’s bullish early targets for the car reflected “passion” for the product rather than “arrogance.”

Production of the car and its battery packs is under way in Smyrna, Tennessee, the company said this month.

Nissan is coming off record U.S. sales in 2012, aided by deliveries of Altima sedans and Rogue crossovers. The Yokohama, Japan-based company boosted deliveries 9.5 percent to 1.14 million Nissan and Infiniti brand vehicles.

Nissan’s U.S. headquarters are in Franklin, Tennessee.

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