Image: Nissan Leaf
Reed Saxon  /  AP
The Nissan Leaf, shown here at a show in Los Angeles last year, is being recalled to fix a software problem.
updated 4/18/2011 4:31:21 PM ET 2011-04-18T20:31:21

Nissan Motor Co. is calling 5,300 Leaf electric cars back to dealerships to fix a software glitch that can keep it from starting.

The company said in a statement that a small number of Leafs worldwide have experienced the problem, so it will reprogram the engine control computer free of charge.

The fix, which includes about 500 Leafs in the U.S., takes about an hour.

Nissan has sold the Leaf in Japan, Europe, the United States and other markets. It sold 452 Leafs in the U.S. through March. Spokesman Brian Brockman said Monday that the company also will fix cars that are in ports or sitting on dealer lots awaiting sale.

Owners will get a message on their car's dashboard telling them to contact their dealer, and they'll also get letters. Brockman said dealers may send someone to the owners' homes or workplaces to fix the problem.

The company said the repairs are not a recall because the problem is not a safety issue. The Leaf motor will not stop while the car is being driven, Brockman said.

Nissan does not have specific numbers for how many Leafs have been affected by the problem.

"It was pretty rare," Brockman said.

The battery-powered Leaf can go up to 100 miles (160 kilometers) on a single charge. It takes eight hours to recharge a Leaf with a special 240-volt circuit, and double that time if it's recharged from a standard 120-volt outlet.

Software and other glitches are not out of the ordinary for new cars, especially when they introduce new technology such as the Leaf.

The manufacturer's suggested retail price for a Leaf in the U.S. is $33,600. Some states offer incentives and rebates for the electric car, and a taxpayer can claim a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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