Nissan threw down the gauntlet when they announced earlier this year they they will be the first major auto manufacturer to sell a 100% electric vehicle. This was great news for supporters of EVs, but it got even better when the details got out. Nissan plans to sell hundreds of thousands of LEAFs, not a small limited release to gauge public interest. They have gone all-in, and are betting that people want these cars now and are willing to deal with the obvious limitations they will be faced with like range and infrastructure problems. Nissan also announced they they will be investing 1 billion dollars in a new Lithium Ion battery plant in Tennessee and retooling their existing facility to build the LEAF there.
Why am I posting this on my MINI-E blog? Well, there is life after #250's lease is up and although I will not be happy, I knew going in that this was a trial lease program and would end with me giving the car back at some point. I'll keep the MINI longer if that becomes an option, but MINI USA has not announced if they will, and if so, at what cost as that will be an big issue as the current $850/month is unsustainable for most of the participants I've spoken to. Whatever the decision on lease extensions from MINI, there will be a time when I have to give it back, so my dilemma is what's my next move? Originally I was planning on getting a Chevy Volt, a plug in battery electric vehicle with an on board gasoline powered range extending generator, and still may buy one after all. However after driving the MINI-E what I really want is an all electric car with no gasoline at all. I really like that I never have to stop at a gas station. I don't even know what the current gas prices are, and I couldn't care less. Nissan has stepped up and stuck their neck out with this car and I want to support them for taking this huge gamble and giving us what we have been asking for since before the EV1: the ability to OWN an electric car that hasn't been made in some small specialty shop with little or no warranty with a major company to stand behind it for servicing.
For a while I wondered what it would be like to drive an electric car, and I want to thank MINI for making that happen and including me in this trial lease. I'm so impressed with the car I would buy it if they would sell it to me, but it doesn't look like that will be an option. Maybe we will get some news soon about the BMW Megacity EV that is supposed to be available in 2012 or 2013, but there really have been no details released at all so it's hard to get excited about it much less plan on buying one. The LEAF is an interesting vehicle, while it's not exactly what I would like it to be, it is still the only 100% electric option so I may find myself in a Nissan dealership someday with my checkbook and an extension cord.
So look for #250 and me to be at the New York City stop on the Nissan Leaf 22 city tour between February 8th & 14th. I'll make sure I get there one of those days to show my support for EVs as well as get a preview of what may well be my next car.