Nissan has announced it will expand the U.S. availability of its all-electric LEAF to the Southeastern U.S. and Illinois markets. The 2012 model year (MY12) LEAF will also see a number of features previously available as optional extras now become standard, including a DC fast charge port and cold weather features such as a battery warmer, heated steering wheel and front and rear heated seats.

The company says it has moved to make the DC fast charge capability standard because the vast majority of buyers of the 2011 model have chosen that option. It allows the LEAF's battery pack to be charged at 480V, which reduces the time taken to charge from completely flat to 80 percent to under 30 minutes. Nissan said the continuing increase of DC fast charging stations across the U.S. was another factor in its decision.

Meanwhile, the standardization of cold weather features is a result of rolling out the vehicle to markets with colder climates.

The company says it will open up the ordering process to customers with existing reservations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington on July 25, 2011, with deliveries of the first 2012 LEAFs to begin in the fall.

Nissan will then start taking orders from existing and new reservations in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York in the fall, with Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island joining the list before the end of the year.

The SV trim level 2012 LEAF will retail for US$35,200, while the SL trim level model will retail for $37,250. Monthly leasing prices begin at $369.