We have reached the turning point when internal combustion has met its maker, so to speak. The world's fourth largest car maker, Nissan/Renault, makes millions of gas-burners, but Saturday, they began the transition to electric in earnest. Nissan could have delivered the first LEAF to a celebrity to get maximum coverage but, to their credit, they delivered it to Olivier Chalouhi, CTO of a tech company in the Bay Area who happened to be the first person to put down a $99 deposit. I like that!
Here is North American Nissan's Chairman, Carlos Tavares giving the keys to a very happy Chaloudi.
Photos by Marc Geller
Nissan will be alone in the market only briefly, as several transport trucks left Detroit yesterday loaded with dozens of Volts headed for eager recipients waiting with cash in hand.
As reported in the Detroit Free Press, "GM said it expected a total of 160 Volts to ship this week to its initial launch markets: California, Austin, Texas, and metro New York City and Washington, D.C."
And at last month's LA Auto Show, both Honda and Toyota indicated their intent to re-enter the EV market with announcements of the electric Honda Fit and the re-introduction of Toyota's well-loved electric RAV4 this time sporting a Tesla drive train.
I've sold 54 LEAFs so far, and as word spreads through the main stream media, inquiries are flowing in from all quarters. People just now learning of the EV revolution want to get in on the action, but patience is warranted since the numbers of cars will be limited at first. I can attest to the frustration at the slow roll out of the LEAF as many of my customers are asking "when is my car coming?" All I can say is "soon".
In addition to the manufacturers named above, we'll soon see EVs from Ford, Mercedes, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Coda, Fisker, Think and of course, Tesla.
The late comers needn't worry that the Volt and LEAF will gobble all the pent up demand since the first EVs to hit the market will do nothing but generate intense interest and demand for any car with a plug.
The recent rise in gas prices serves as a reminder of what happened in 2008 when gas hit north of $4. We all know that it can - and will - happen again. Those in line now to get their EV will avoid the worst of the damage when those prices inevitably rise.