Make Like a Tree and…Emit Zero Emissions

I recently had the pleasure of test driving the soon-to-be-released Nissan LEAF™, a fully electric car. It has great pickup, and a super smooth ride. And it is surprisingly spacious inside. My husband, who is 6′ tall, had plenty of leg room in the back, which is rare for a compact car. In addition to the creature comforts, this car offers lots of other advantages. Besides the obviously huge cost savings in fuel, you will save money on car insurance because, unlike regular cars, you aren’t toting around flammable liquids, and the engine has no moving parts to break down. Plus the break pads don’t wear out because the car slows itself down.

It can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge, and can go up to 90 mph. Because its maximum speed is 90 mph, which is plenty for most roads, this also reduces your insurance costs.

My husband was very impressed with the fact that it has 100% torque available at 0 RPM. I liked the fact that if something goes wrong with the battery, you don’t have to replace the whole thing. It comes in components (I think there are about 100 battery units within the battery case), which can each be diagnosed and addressed individually.

The battery charging stations are compact and fit easily into any garage. You can also use the same type of outlet you would use to power a washer and dryer, it just takes longer to fully charge the car. Already, companies like Kaiser Permanent, Whole Foods, Walgreens, and Cracker Barrel have plans to install charging stations. The car comes equipped with sensors that tell you where the nearest available charging station is!

There is also an App, which you can download and play with to see how the features work, even if you aren’t yet an owner of a Nissan LEAF™ . You can use the App to: check the level of your battery charge, begin charging, see when the battery charge is complete, see your estimated driving range, and even turn the climate control system on or off – on cold days, you can warm up your car from inside the comfort of your home!

Originally scheduled to ship in September, production has been delayed due to the recent catastrophic events in Japan. However, they expect to ship the first cars in December. The waiting list has been closed, but you can sign up on the Nissan website to be notified to be on the next waiting list. In the meantime, to find out where you can take a test drive, check the Drive Nissan LEAF™ website.

The cost for the LEAF™ will range from $32,700 to $33,700. However, with rebates and tax incentives, the actually cost can range from about $23,000 to $25,000. Not bad, especially considering the fuel cost savings in just one year.

On April 1st, the White House announced the green fleet initiative, which ensures that by 2015, all new vehicles purchased for U.S. federal agencies will be electric, gas-electric hybrid, or alternatively fueled. Given the wild fluctuations and rising gas prices, it seems that the electric car is an idea whose time has finally come.