Did I only imagine the hush that fell over the EV world today after Nissan's all-electric LEAF hatchback pricing announcement? I fantasized that the very tree leaves-- recognizing an automotive kindred spirit-- stopped rustling in the spring breeze at the long-awaited news. Before incentives the Nissan LEAF -- will cost $32,780. But wait. Make that $26,380 -- including charging station -- if you subtract federal tax credits of $7,500. But wait. Make that $21,380 if you are fortunate enough to live in California where you can take advantage of a $5,000 state rebate. Georgia, Oregon, Washington and Colorado all offer additional tax breaks for EV purchases as well. And make that one impatient, swirling throng of EV customers waiting to cross Nissan's automotive palms with some serious silver.
So come December we should be able to witness the potential pent-up demand in action for a reasonably-priced, highway capable, mass-produced electric vehicle. And it's about time. Major automakers have long claimed that EVs might be a good idea, but that plug-in cars represented a niche market -- one that only a few very well-heeled and / or environmentally savvy customers would be interested in actually paying for. And in service of that oft-repeated point of view, those same automakers merely manufactured a few thousand EVs in the last decade which they then snatched back from satisfied lessees and crushed flatter than fritters. But then you already knew all that . . .
Well, The Times They Are a Changin'. The Nissan LEAF 5-door hatchback will be marketed and available for sale in North America, Europe and Japan beginning late this year with an approximate 100-mile range. The LEAF is based on the Nissan Versa platform and uses a 24 kWh / 90 kW lithium ion battery pack. This all-electric hatchback will, of course, be very freeway friendly with a top speed of 87 mph. According to the Washington Post, "the company expects to have 25,000 firm customer orders in the U.S. by December."
So the LEAF is set to fall softly to earth within the year, but will eventually rock the major automakers' world. Consumers have, after all, happily fueled their phones for decades by conveniently plugging them in. And you gotta wonder: why not their personal transportation too? Just wait until John and Joan Public experience the unchartered but welcome convenience of plugging into automotive power where they live work and play. Personal transportation as we now know it could be about to change forever.
Posted by Linda Nicholes
Photo courtesy of Treehugger.com