POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 1, 2010
A top Nissan executive said yesterday all 300 Hawaii residents who have put down deposits for the Leaf electric car should get a vehicle when the first shipment arrives here in January.
There had been some concern among prospective Leaf owners that Nissan's allotment of the plug-in car might not be enough to meet demand in Hawaii, which is one of seven markets nationally where Nissan is rolling out the Leaf.
"I'm pretty confident that they will all get cars, said Nissan's Brian Carolin, who was in Honolulu to demonstrate the Leaf and announce a partnership with the state to promote the development of electric vehicles and charging stations.
"The state of Hawaii has made a huge commitment to the necessary infrastructure to support the vehicle," said Carolin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for sales and marketing.
The 300 reservations in Hawaii are the highest per capita of any of the markets where the car is being launched, he said.
Nissan officials unveiled the first Leaf in Hawaii yesterday during a news conference with Gov. Linda Lingle and other state officials at the Hawai'i Convention Center to announce the partnership.
Lingle said the high interest in the Leaf here demonstrates the state's commitment to clean energy.
"Here, as percentage of our total population, there are more people than anywhere else who say this is our future. This is Hawaii's future and what a perfect relationship," Lingle said.
Both the governor and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona Jr. got behind the wheel and took the Leaf for a test drive around the Ala Moana area following the news conference.
Nissan executives had already put some miles on the car earlier in the week, driving the half-island loop from Honolulu to the North Shore, down the Windward side and through the Pali Tunnel back to Honolulu. The Sunday test drive totaled 89 miles and included stops at various tourist attractions, including the Dole Plantation, Matsumoto Shave Ice and the shrimp trucks in Kahuku, said Hideaki Watanabe, head of Nissan's zero emissions program.
When the car got back to Honolulu, it had 22 miles' worth of charge left on its battery, said Watanabe, noting the performance was a little better than the car's advertised range of 100 miles under average driving conditions.
The Leaf carries a suggested manufacturer's retail price of $32,780. A $7,500 federal tax credit and $4,500 state tax credit drop the effective price to $20,780.