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Nissan to sell new lower-priced version of Leaf electric car

(Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> will introduce a lower-priced version of its electric car, called the Leaf S, as it rolls out the 2013 models, the company said on Wednesday.

Pricing for the new versions of the Leaf, including two that have been sold for two years, has not yet been announced.

The 2013 Leaf is expected to be at dealerships in February, said Brian Brockman, Nissan spokesman.

Two versions of the Leaf will come with a standard 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger that will cut charging time in half compared with 2012 models, Nissan said.

That onboard charger will be optional equipment on the new Leaf S, Nissan said. Pricing for that option was not released by Nissan.

Leaf cars sold in North America for the past two years have been made at Nissan's plant in Japan. Production has shifted to the company's Smyrna, Tennessee plant, where output ramped up this week for 2013 models, Brockman said.

The 6.6-KW onboard charger will allow owners to charge the Leaf's lithium-ion battery in less than four hours using a 220-volt outlet.

The current 2012 Leaf costs $36,050 for the SV version and $38,100 for the SL version including $850 destination charges before a federal tax credit of $7,500.

Leaf U.S. sales in 2012 were 9,819, up only 145 from the previous year.

About 19,500 Leaf cars have been sold in the U.S. market since it was introduced in December 2010. Nissan says it has sold nearly 50,000 worldwide.

Nissan is falling well short of its goal of doubling Leaf sales in the company's current fiscal year, which ends March 31.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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