Nissan Delivers to World's Second LEAF Owner, and So On
While electric car enthusiasts are still celebrating the delivery of the very first Nissan LEAF to its owner, the world's second owner is poised to get his EV on Monday in San Diego. Tom Franklin, a patent attorney and electrical engineer specializing in clean technology patents, will tomorrow drive off the lot of Mossy Nissan and into the bold new electric future of automotive technology.
“I'm excited about not using foreign energy to power my car,” Franklin told PluginCars.com. “We go to war and do all kinds of crazy things, certainly influenced by our great need for foreign oil. To be able to power a car domestically, it's a huge deal.” Franklin was in attendance in San Francisco when Nissan executives, city officials and other well-wishers honored Olivier Chalouhi, the first LEAF owner.
A week of first LEAF deliveries continues on Tuesday in Arizona, on Wednesday in Oregon, and on Friday in Seattle. The rollout will culminate next week when a customer in Nissan's U.S.-based home turf in Tennessee becomes the first Nissan LEAF owner east of the Mississippi.
Tom Franklin's car is a blue LEAF SL-E. The SL trim is the premium package which includes fog lights, automatic headlights, a rear-view monitor and a solar panel spoiler. The “E” refers to the limited number of LEAFs that come with the port for DC quick-charging at no extra cost—but it's free only in the specific locations where the LEAF rollout overlaps with the EV Project (a program in which the U.S. Department of Energy and ECOtality, a private company, will install thousands of charging stations).
The quick-charge port, which is only available on the SL model (not the base SV trim) costs $700 for customers not included in the EV Project. In August, Nissan's Mark Perry informed PluginCars.com via email: “For those customers in the five D.O.E. project launch states who meet the research criteria and are willing to participate in the study for two years, one of the benefits is a free option for a DC fast Charger.” Perry wrote that only a small subset, about 5,700 LEAF owners who will participate in the research study, will have the cost subsidized by the D.O.E. grant. The ability to use a public quick charger means LEAF owners can recharge the car's drained battery pack to 80 percent in about 30 minutes.
Selling the Hybrid
Franklin registered to participate in the EV Project soon after ordering his LEAF. His ECOtality 220-volt charger was installed on Friday while he was in San Francisco—and will be ready to use on Monday when he drives home in the LEAF. Franklin's charger, the first installed in Southern California, took more than a day to put in. “My house is kind of funny. I have a basement level garage, and the panel was way on the other side of the house,” Franklin said. “You had to snake it in a very funny way.” Franklin lives just a few miles from Nissan's San Diego-based design center.
Before receiving the call that he would become the first San Diego LEAF owner, Franklin believed he was going to receive his EV in spring 2011. But he was growing impatient about his urgent desire to switch to electric fuel. As a result, he was planning to convert his Toyota Prius to a plug-in hybrid. “I was thinking that I would get extra batteries for the Prius, because I just couldn't wait any longer,” Franklin said. “I was about to buy that battery, but I'm glad I waited, because five days later, I got the call from Nissan.” Franklin will now sell his Prius to make room for the brand new 2011 Nissan LEAF.
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