Portland Collision Shop Offers Free Electric Car Loaners

By · May 08, 2011

West Hills Collision Center

Don Blazer could talk to you at length about the benefits of electric cars. However, he has a faster way to convince you. He’ll hand you the keys and let you drive one.

Blazer owns West Hills Collision Center in Portland, Ore. “I have been driving almost entirely electric for seven years,” said Blazer. Previous generations of electric vehicles required special charging equipment and were not well suited for loaner cars. But times have changed.

The Nissan LEAF is the type of car that Blazer has been waiting for. The LEAF is a highway-capable car that can be plugged into any standard outlet. Its batteries are reliable and can operate in a wide range of driving conditions. “This is a vehicle that anyone can drive. Now I can share the EV driving experience,” proclaimed Blazer.

Blazer hands over the keys to his first EV loaner customer.

Blazer believes that after driving this car for a week or so, most people will understand that it can meet most daily driving needs. “People who have not driven an EV are often concerned about range and recharge times,” he said. An electric car can easily be plugged in overnight and start-out each day with a full charge—offering around 100 miles of driving.

Blazer’s shop currently has two LEAF vehicles for use as loaners. “Normally I would not loan out this expensive of a vehicle but right now there is a very limited number of electric vehicles available,” said Blazer. “Of the 50,000 body shops in the United States I know of none using electric vehicles as loaner or replacement rental cars.” In this regard, Mr. Blazer is living up to his name and ‘blazing’ a trail in alternative transportation.

Electric cars are fun to drive. There is something special about their smooth pep and silent running that makes people fall in love with them.

Not just anyone can walk in off the street and grab the keys to this new car. The loaner is free only to customers of the collision center. The first customer to borrow the car drove off on March 3 when he dropped off his Prius for repair from a minor collision with a rock wall.

Blazer believes in EVs and hopes to see other body shops using them soon. “This would mean that EVs are gaining acceptance,” he noted. The loans will attract green-minded customers and be good for his business long term, according to Blazer.

There will be more plug-in cars on the road in the near future and some of these will eventually be involved in collisions. When this happens, those drivers may want to go where the owner is a fellow supporter of electric vehicles—and where they can drive an all-electric loaner for a few days, until the work is done.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
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  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
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  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
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