Electric Vehicles

Prospective buyers try out Nissan’s new electric car

Marcus Hay had been researching electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf, for months before he finally got to see and drive one Friday.
The Denton resident said he was impressed.
“It doesn’t feel like an economy car. It’s well-done,” said Hay, who already paid $99 for a reservation allowing him to order a Leaf in February.
The electric car revolution is beginning to reach Texas. The first Chevy Volts have trickled into the state in the past month, and now a few Leafs should reach Texas buyers before the end of January.
With only about 50,000 Leafs expected to be produced this year for distribution worldwide, Nissan has long lines of prospective buyers. About 24,000 reservations, which guarantee a Leaf order at a specific time, have been sold in the U.S.
“We’ve got to have at least 500-plus Texas orders,” said Robin Maas, Nissan’s electric-vehicle operations manager in Texas.
Nissan is holding a Leaf “ride and drive” event all weekend at its regional offices in Irving so reservation holders and other interested parties can drive the car. It’s the third stop on a 22-city tour to show off the cars, the first of which were delivered to West Coast buyers this month.
Displays of the vehicle’s battery drive system and features are set up in heated tents, and Nissan representatives are on hand to answer questions.
The questions from Friday’s visitors indicated that they have done massive amounts of research on electric vehicles, batteries and other technology in the Leaf.
“We get an extremely educated” person at the front of the line to see and buy the Leaf, Maas said. They are comfortable with the technology and limitations of electric vehicles.
“People that come here don’t have range anxiety,” Maas said, referring to concerns about running out of battery power. “They’ve already made that decision. They’re here to see that it’s a real car and how if feels and how it performs.”
The Leaf is 100 percent electric. Its lithium-ion batteries are expected to give it about a 100-mile range, depending on speed and the use of accessories like air conditioning. That’s different from the Chevy Volt, which is expected to have about a 40-mile battery range, but also a 4-cylinder gasoline engine that powers a generator.
The Leaf has a base price of $32,780. The final purchase price can be lowered by a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
Hay, an aircraft mechanic who understands the technology involved, said he’s pretty close to making up his mind about ordering a Leaf. And it’s not because he’s an ardent environmentalist or even looking to save money on gasoline.
“To me it comes down to oil,” he said. “We’re importing two-thirds from the Middle East, and we need to get out of there as soon as we can.”

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