Nissan LEAF electric vehicleEnlarge Photo
LEAF whiteEnlarge Photo
Nissan LEAF InteriorEnlarge Photo
Nissan LEAF Charging PortEnlarge Photo
Listen up, early adopters and EV fans. If you're one of the first 5,000 buyers of the 2012 Nissan LEAF that was just announced this week, it looks like you'll get a home-based charger as part of the deal.
Arizona-based eTec has been selected for a $99.8 million grant and will exclusively supply the first Nissan LEAF EV buyers with chargers.
eTec said that it will be the "largest deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure in U.S. history."
The tech company intends to cover Corvallis, Eugene, Portland, and Salem, Oregon; Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California; and Seattle, Washington, with charging stations. In each of the markets, the LEAF will be available beginning late next year as part of the pilot program.
Altogether the project, at an overall cost of about double the cost of the federal grant, will include about 12,750 chargers—more than 2,500 in each of the five states—to be rolled out in support of the first 5,000 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles. About 1,000 Leaf EVs will be delivered first to each of these five markets.
Two different models of charging stations from eTec will be offered; the first, a model costing $1500, will be supplied to buyers of the LEAF. Communities will also be supplied with fast parking-lot-based charging stations that can charge the vehicle in just 30 minutes; 250 of the Level 3 (fast-charge) will be deployed altogether. Both models will be compatible with other electric vehicles.
The 2012 LEAF is a five-door hatchback with seating for five adults. A lithium-ion battery pack will provide a 100-mile range. National availability is expected later, and production is slated to begin at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee, plant in 2012.
With significant infrastructure support—such as that promised with the rollout of charging stations—along with the LEAF's claimed fast-charge capability of just 30 minutes to 80-percent charge, and its battery-specific chassis design, the LEAF looks like the strongest possibility for a mass-market electric vehicle yet.
Chattanooga and Portland are slated to be among the first to see the charger installations—and, we would assume, deliveries of the LEAF late next year. Portland mayor Sam Adams wasted no time in posting to the Gas2.org blog that he contributes to along with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and others—and taking a step forward in the EV rivalry the two mayors maintain. "While our neighbors to the north in Washington and to the south in California have their own successes to celebrate, I believe Portlanders will come out on top in the race for EV greatness," wrote Adams. "One LEAF at a time."
Nissan has so far only used the word 'deployment' with respect to the LEAF, so it's not yet clear whether the EV will be for sale or lease. We'll bring you all the details as they emerge.
You'll find more pictures, news, and information on this upcoming vehicle at TheCarConnection.com's overview page on the 2012 Nissan LEAF.