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All-electric Nissan Leaf to go on sale in NC this fall

The all-electric Nissan Leaf will go on sale in North Carolina this fall, nearly a year after the zero emissions auto debuted in this country.

But the base price of the 2012 Leaf will be $2,500 more than this year's model, listing at $35,200. That doesn't include the $7,500 federal tax credit available for electric cars, which cuts the cost by about a fourth.

To date the Leaf has been sold on the West Coast, Arizona and Tennessee through online orders. The company has sold 4,400 since December.

The company will begin taking online orders Aug. 4 for the general public, but customers who have previously reserved the car can order July 25. A Nissan spokesman said the Leaf should be available at most dealerships in North Carolina.

Got questions about plug-in cars? Just ask! I'll be driving a Chevy Volt for a few days.

Is the Triangle ready for cars that plug in? Now I'll find out if I'm ready, myself.

I’m talking with Triangle folks who have started driving Teslas and Chevy Volts, put down money for a spot on the Nissan Leaf waiting list, or converted their own gas-burners into plug-in hybrids.

And starting today, I’ll get my own chance when Progress Energy lends me a Chevy Volt to drive for a few days.

I have a lot of questions about this car. And I’m especially interested in your questions: Are you thinking about buying a Volt or a Leaf or a Prius plug-in hybrid -- or one of the other e-car options that will become available in the coming months?

Post your questions below or email me (please include full contact information, which I will not make public), and I’ll post my answers. ... [MORE]

Is Raleigh ready for Plug-In 2011? Are you ready for an electric car?

Tesla test driveCalifornia is where they usually hold the national confab on cars that plug in. This year Raleigh is the host city for Plug-In 2011, a four-day conference and exposition scheduled July 18-21 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Car makers are signing up folks who want to buy plug-in hybrids and electric cars.  Are you on the list?  Do you drive a Tesla? Are you planning to buy a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Volt?  Or even thinking about it? Or maybe you've rigged up a plug-in Prius?

If so, I'd like to speak with you for a story about the Triangle's eagerness for the e-car. Please e-mail me with your contact information, or call me at 919-829-4527.

Nissan Leaf debuts in Raleigh

The nation's first all-electric car for the mass market is making its debut in the Triangle today.

The Nissan Leaf is available for test drives until 2 p.m. in Research Triangle Park. The car, which boasts a 100-mile range on a single charge, is expected to be available for purchase later this year.

As part of a national promotional tour that began last year, the Leaf will also make a stop at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh this weekend and at the Concord Mills mall in Charlotte next week.

Five Leaf cars are available for test-driving, and more than 50 test-drives have been logged at RTP today. Fourteen will be available for test-drives at the farmers market this weekend.

The all-electric Leaf and the Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid, represent this nation's first wave of mass-market electric cars. They are heavily backed by the Obama Administration with millions of dollars in stimulus funds for research, development as well as installation of public charging stations.

But the public's embrace of electric cars, and validation of the government's investment, remains a wild card. Experts say that electric cars will fare best when gasoline prices are high, prompting a shift in customer behavior.

Test drive a Nissan Leaf

Want to test drive a Nissan Leaf? The all-electric vehicle is making a tour stop in Raleigh this weekend.

Charge your Volt for free; pay $1 an hour to park at charging station

Raleigh's new public charging stations for electric cars are a sign that the city will be ready for its share of new cars that don't need petroleum.  (See today's Road Worrier column.)

Volt, Leaf and Focus Electric drivers will be doing most of their charging at home.

But if they need the security of a charging station downtown, a place to top off the battery, they'll have a few dozen options.

The first two stations are installed on West Hargett Street -- where you pay to park but not, for now, to recharge your battery.

ABB's Raleigh team will research recycling electric car batteries

ABB, maker of heavy duty electrical equipment, will work with General Motors to develop secondary uses for electric car batteries.

ABB's portion of the work will be handled out of its research center at N.C. State University's Centennial Campus, said spokesman Bill Rose.

The lithium ion batteries that will power the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have an estimated life span of about a decade. Though they will be able to hold an electric charge, over time they will drain more quickly and become less efficient, requiring replacement with fresh batteries.

The "spent" electric batteries could supply the missing link in the nation's power grid by providing a system for storing power, a technology that has so far eluded scientists and the power industry.

Raleigh rolls out speedy permits for electric car recharging

Raleigh is preparing for the arrival of plug-in electric cars by creating a streamlined permitting system for household battery rechargers.

Recharging an electric car puts a heavy demand on a home's electrical wiring and could require modifications and upgrades to accommodate a 220-volt outlet.

Getting a city permit for the recharger would have taken a homeowner at least three days, so the city has created a streamlined procedure that will take just one hour, said Frank Olafson, Permits Office Administrator for Raleigh.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Nissan, which is instroducing the all-electric Leaf automobile this year, lobbied Raleigh officials to make the change. Nissan's goal to to become the first mass-marketer of electric cars, but that goal depends on hassle-free permits for recharging stations, the Journal says.

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