Brian Carolin, Nissan's US sales and marketing chief, predicts the Nissan Leaf will be profitable... eventually. With the battery pack costs at $18,000, it's just about impossible to make money off the car.
“Over the course of the vehicle life, it is profitable—in year three,” he said (WSJ).But in 2012, when Nissan starts producing the Leaf in the US at the Smyrna plant in Tennessee, Nissan hopes the economies of scale will have kicked in. The Smyrna plant has the capacity to build 150,000 cars a year.
As it is, only about 20,000 cars will be sent to the US each year for the next two years. Since the Leaf already has 9,000 pre-orders and hopes to have 25,000 by the time it launches, anyone who doesn't pre-order will most likely have to wait for that plant to open up before they can get one.
Keep in mind that the pre-orders that have been made were done so without any advertising and were in a closed system. Now that Nissan has opened up to the public, Nissan is very likely to surpass that 25,000 mark easily.