Excitement is rising around the Nissan Leaf, America’s first major commercial electric car. An article in yesterday’s New York Times states that so far, 20,000 people have reserved a Leaf at their local dealerships; the vehicle will be available as early as December here in Washington, along with Oregon, California, Arizona, and Tennessee. The limited release is targeted toward regions where the Leaf is expected to make a splash; in major cities in Tennessee, electric cars will be allotted their own parking places, allowed in freeway HOV lanes, and offered free public charging stations for convenient “refueling.”
A Zero Emissions Vehicle, the Leaf is 100% electric. It’s advertised as being able to drive at up to 90 miles per hour, and travel up to 100 miles per charge, which takes place every time you plug in your charging dock or, in a pinch, hook up to a standard wall outlet.
And the perks don’t end there. The Tennessee government is offering a $2500 cash rebate for those who purchase the vehicle, in addition to federal tax credits and free home-charging units from the Department of Energy. So even if you fall outside the demographic that Nissan anticipates will be most enthusiastic about this new technology— “affluent, college-educated consumers in their mid-40s who are both environmentally sensitive and willing to take a chance” —you may find that the price is right.
And it is the price, not the technology, that makes the Leaf break out from the pack. Tesla’s Roadster, an all-electric car that gets 245 miles per charge and goes from zero to sixty in 3.7 seconds, also boasts a prohibitive price tag of over $100,000. Nissan’s Leaf, on the other hand, is $32,780—and that’s before the subsidies kick in.
The Huffington Post points out that in fact, the electric car has been around almost as long as the automotive industry itself. The Anderson Carriage Company of Detroit was making the Detroit Electric back in 1907, which they sold for $2650, almost four times the price of the Model T. Because these electric cars could start without turning a hand crank, it seems the Detroit Electric was quite popular with the ladies.