San Francisco Resident Becomes First Nissan Leaf Owner

Owning the first ever Nissan Leaf may not be like owning the first Ferrari off the line, but it isn't such a bad thing.

Nissan Motor Company said that Olivier Chalouhi, a 31-year-old entrepreneur living in the San Francisco Bay area, would get the black battery-powered car at North Bay Nissan of Petaluma today.

This all-electric vehicle can travel up to 73-miles and starts at $32,780, before a $7,500 federal tax credit and state credits. Nissan will initially launch the car in a few states, but it should become available nationally by 2012.

J.D. Power and Associates estimates that around 90,000 electric vehicles will be sold in the United States by 2015. On top of that, the organization estimates that 145,000 plug-in hybrids will be sold by that year.

There are numerous other electric vehicles on the market, including Tesla Motors, which sell high-performance electric roadsters at a higher price. While Nissan’s concept isn’t innovative, the Leaf is the first electric powered vehicle with an affordable price tag that should sell in mass quantities.

Already, the Leaf has won numerous awards, including the European Car of the Year, while Time magazine called the Leaf one of the 50 best inventions of 2009.

The Leaf started life as a prototype, as do most cars. It was called the EV-11 prototype electric car and was based on the Nissan Versa platform, but it had an all-electric drivetrain, including an 110 horsepower electric motor, 24 kW·h lithium-ion battery pack rated to have a range of 100 miles. The EV-11 prototype was on display July 26, 2009 and a week later, the car was put into production as the Leaf.

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