Nissan’s new 100% electric car is finally here. Amid much interest and speculation, Nissan’s Leaf (AKA- Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) has hit the market here in the U.S. as well as Japan. The Leaf represents the first mass-produced electric car to be introduced by a major auto manufacturer.
Green minded-automotive enthusiasts have been salivating at the prospect of an affordable long-range all electric vehicle since GM’s EV1, a model which GM canceled while also instituting a policy of having nearly all road-going test models crushed and shredded in spite of its popularity among those privileged to have leased one temporarily.
Unlike the beloved EV1, the Leaf benefits from modern battery technology as well as a generous price reduction thanks to the Electric Vehicle Federal Tax Credit which knocks $7,500 from the sticker price of $32,780 (not to mention an additional state tax credit of $1,500 for Oregonians). In addition to savings from the tax credits there also stands to be long-term savings resulting from the Leaf not requiring petroleum based fuels, as the price of oil in the long term will only rise as our oil resources become more scarce.
Here’s something else to chew on; while the newest hybrid currently on the market, the Prius, hits an average of 51 MPG in the city, the Leaf’s city MPG equivalent is 106.
Is the Leaf all peaches and cream? That is yet to be seen. It may even be awhile before most people get to drive one unless you happen to be one of 20,000 Americans on the waiting list. Lucky for ecoShuttle drivers, ecoShuttle will be adding a Leaf to our growing fleet this winter! (The waiting list includes residents of a small pocket of pre-tested markets, such as Portland! Full market vehicle rollout begins in 2012). Aside from that there have been some questions concerning the issue of keeping the vehicle charged.
Home charging kits, according to Nissan, will end up costing an additional $2,200. As regards the environment, the Leaf produces no local pollution, but as with anything deriving energy from an electrical grid there is always the question of the source of energy and the impact created by that source (i.e. coal, hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear, though, in the case of ecoShuttle, our energy use is offset by 100% renewable energy).
Critics also wonder if it is capable of cross country treks due to a lack of charge stations in the country-side, an issue which will probably remain unresolved until electric cars start to make a larger impact on the overall automotive market.
What I find most exciting about the Leaf is the general interest it is generating in electric vehicles and the potential role it can play in ushering in an era of green-friendly transportation. And while the immediate impact of the Leaf on the car-dependent U.S. may not be the ultimate solution for our dependence on oil, it is looking like a solid starting point.