Close to 10,000 LEAF leapers — and counting

leaf-rededitors-blog-entry3A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how interest in the Nissan LEAF would prove the legion of EV naysayers wrong. Most of these folks see less than a five percent market share for EVs by 2020 and many, incorrectly in my view, seek to project potential EV growth based the comparatively slow growth of hybrid vehicles.

Well, the numbers from Nissan are in for its early reservation period. And, while they aren’t bowl-you-over staggering, they aren’t tiny either. So far, according to Nissan, about 10,000 people (including yours truly) have put down a $99 deposit on a Nissan LEAF.

Nissan recently threw open the reservation process to the general public, and it is saying it anticipates up to 25,000 reservations by Dec. 1, the date by which the first LEAFs are scheduled to roll off the assembly line.

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Given the massive size of the American auto market, 10,000 might not seem like a lot. On the other hand, that number is more than the number of production level EVs (meaning EVs capable of traveling at highway speed that have been produced originally as EVs) currently traversing American roadways (roughly 3,000 by some estimates).

And Nissan is just one of many automakers (Tesla, Mitsubishi, Ford, THINK City, BYD, General Motors, etc.) entering — or already in — the American electric car market.

It’s also extremely early in the electric car game — and there are many reasons to believe that the appeal of electric cars is both unique and that this appeal will grow. For example, EVs offer the potential for several substantial advantages over a Prius or Insight:

1. Sticking it to Big Oil — completely;
2. Something approaching near total fueling independence if one puts up a home solar system to produce the electricity to juice up one’s EV;
3. True zero emissions driving (for EV-ers filling up with sun and other renewable energy forms);

The expert analysts who cite hybrids as the benchmark for the future of other green cars ignore these — and other — significant differences between the appeal of electric cars and hybrid autos. In my opinion, the experts therefore end up engaging in what, in many respects, amounts to an apples to oranges comparison.

While it’s still too early to tell how quickly the electric car market will grow — in the U.S. and around the world — early signs, including nearly 10,000 LEAF leapers — and counting — in the U.S. point to the very real possibility that EVs and PHEVs could indeed be big and that they could be big a lot earlier than many of the experts predict.

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