[ad#post_ad]On this date of 12/11/10 Nissan begins to make good on its visionary CEO Carlos Ghosn's promise to mass-produce electric cars on a large global scale.
First announced in March of last year, the LEAF electric car program has been moving fast and furious. The company stopped taking orders in the Fall when they reached 20,000 US consumers who had put a $99 deposit down to reserve their car. The company shocked the world when they announced the surprisingly low price of $25,280 after tax credits for the car ($20,280 in California), and have gotten many rave automotive reviews for the vehicle.
Indeed Ghosn plans to produce up to 500,000 EVs per year shortly, and a US-based assembly plant for the car and a separate one for the batteries are being developed in Smyrna Tenessee that will go online in 2012.
Today the very first consumer in the US will pick up his brand new LEAF in the San Fransciso Bay area of California.
The man is named Olivier Chalouhi and is a 31-year old tech entrepreneur who is credited as the first person to order a LEAF in one of the US launch markets. Those initial markets include Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Tennessee and Seattle.
The eyes of the world will be watching as Chalouhi picks up his black Nissan LEAF SL at North Bay Nissan of Petaluma. The delivery will be followed by a press conference at San Francisco City Hall Plaza.
Perhaps nowhere else in the country are EVs more popular and important than in California, when too the initial Volts will be sold.
To commemorate this occasion, Carlos Ghosn has written the following memo which was paced on the Nissan LEAF Facebook page :
For more than 100 years of car manufacturing, we have been tethered to the same gasoline engine concept. That is, until now.
On the eve of the market debut of the Nissan LEAF electric car in the United States and Japan, a date that the Renault-Nissan Alliance has been working toward for many years, some are watching our efforts with great skepticism. That does not come as a surprise. If necessity is the mother of innovation, then skepticism is its father. From the two, solutions come to life.
Advances we have achieved in technology now allow us to move forward with the affordable, mass-marketed 100% electric cars – Nissan LEAF being the first.
This drive toward new, sustainable mobility is born from one simple premise: Electricity is the new fuel for cars. The electric car has the potential to transform the industry, and it has already begun to change the way we think about cars and fuel.
Recently, a reporter asked me how the Environmental Protection Agency should indicate miles per gallon on the fuel economy sticker that goes in the window of each new Nissan LEAF. My response: Miles per gallon? Infinite. There is no gallon. Though the EPA rates Nissan LEAF at 99 miles per gallon, it is a measurement as outdated in the new mobility age as the idea of tailpipe emissions. An electric car has neither a tailpipe nor emissions.
As the global community thinks more and more about sustainability, more is at stake than simply seeking ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There is a need to shift away from a total dependence on this finite resource – oil – as we continue to meet the transportation needs of people all over the world. If the car is sustainable, then so will be the industry.
Skeptics point to concerns about the lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles. We share this concern. That is why our approach extends beyond the car itself. We are engaged every step of the way – from car and battery development to battery-recycling and charging stations.
We realize that public and private cooperation is essential to the success of the electric car, and we have more than 80 partnerships with governments and organizations worldwide to develop the infrastructure to support EVs and widespread marketplace acceptance. In the United States, these partnerships reach from Hawaii to Connecticut, from Washington State to Florida, and every day more partnerships are being negotiated.
There are moments in life when you can feel that you are on the verge of something truly significant. It is a feeling of optimism and potential, the result of preparation and the right timing.
Little by little, the skeptics are becoming believers. Governments, industries and a growing number of consumers are overwhelmingly embracing a car that many have not yet driven. Soon, more and more people will have an opportunity to see, drive or own their own electric car. In Nissan LEAF, they will fully understand all the benefits we have been talking about: the quiet ride, quick acceleration, smooth handling and – best of all – zero emissions.
This is the future of mobility, and the future is starting now.
# # #
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Congratulations Nissan and Mr. Ghosn, we applaud your effort, and wish you well. As with the Volt, buyer in the rest of the country will have to wait up to 18 months before they can pick up their cars.
Also unveiled this week is the movie trailer for the upcoming film Revenge of the Electric Car. The film is written and directed by Chris Paine who also created the 2006 film called Who Killed the Electric Car, the story of the EV-1 that played a role in jump starting the electric car revolution of which we are bearing witness. A little known fact is I started GM-Volt.com without having known about the EV-1 story at all, and having never heard of or seen the original film. Of note Paine declined to interview me for the film despite GM's strong suggestions that he do, due to the role of this site in the car's development. See the video below: