On Monday, Tom Franklin of San Diego finally received his Nissan LEAF, making him the second person in the country to officially own the highly anticipated, 100-percent electric vehicle (EV).
“I just had my first drive. It is smooth like floating on air. A hovercraft,” Franklin explains. “The feel is solid like a high-end luxury car. It is not a sports car, but it has big torque without the hesitation of a gas-powered car. It is indescribable!”
With a family of five in tow, Franklin says one of the reasons he chose the LEAF is because it was the first production electric car that truly fit his needs.
Franklin, who has a daily commute of about 20 miles, is prepared to take full advantage of being an EV owner; he already owns a level 2 charger for his home and hopes to soon purchase one for his office.
But for Franklin, the savings on fueling up at the gas station wasn’t the No. 1 motivating factor when buying his LEAF.
“I want to lead by example with an electric car,” he says. “I suppose the savings will be a thousand dollars or two. The easy maintenance is attractive. Mostly, the feel of the next generation of personal transport is the biggest attractor. I have a ‘hover craft’ free of ‘dyno-fuel.'”
Franklin’s LEAF supports a green lifestyle into which he has already settled comfortably. As Toyota Prius owner for four years, Franklin also experiments with green technology to reduce his overall footprint, such as LED lighting and incorporating low-energy devices in the home.
On Dec. 11, San Francisco resident Olivier Chalouhi became the very first owner of a Nissan LEAF. Less than a week into driving it, he says he is more than satisfied with its performance.
“I thought I was about to sacrifice when getting the LEAF, but honestly gas-powered cars just became dinosaurs in my mind (as in completely outdated),” he wrote in an e-mail to Earth911. “I wanted to do my part regarding the environment. But I didn’t want to sacrifice too much for that. So I needed highway capable car, with enough room for two car seats in the back, which was affordable. The LEAF is the only one on the market.”
Today, the third LEAF will be delivered to a customer in Phoenix. ABC Nissan in Phoenix will also celebrate the kickoff of The EV Project, a Department of Energy-funded initiative led by charger-maker ECOtality North America, which constitutes the world’s largest charging infrastructure deployment.
In August 2009, the U.S. DOE awarded a $99.8 million grant to ECOtality in order to get The EV Project up and running. The release of the LEAF is the first milestone of the multi-point phase that will be crucial to making EVs mainstream in the U.S. ECOtality will deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations for EVs in 16 cities located in six states (Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas) and the District of Columbia.
The Nissan LEAF starts at $32,780, before tax credits and rebates. As the first and only mass-produced electric car in the world, the LEAF uses no gas, has no tailpipe and produces zero emissions.