Bay Area chosen for launch of new electric car

San Francisco has a new incentive to build an infrastructure for electric vehicles after Nissan announced Monday that it will market its new line of battery-powered cars in the Bay Area late next year.

Nissan officials on Monday said they are confident that the Bay Area is ready for the August 2010 launch of the all-battery-powered Nissan LEAF, which is expected to be the world’s largest mass distribution of an electric car – about 100,000 cars at one time. The Bay Area was one of five U.S. markets chosen for the launch, the company said.

Bay Area leaders have been promising for some time that the region will be EV-ready before all-battery cars become common in the market. Last year, Newsom and mayors in Oakland and San Jose declared that the Bay Area will be the nation’s EV capital, with a standardized infrastructure that allows commuters access to chargers in all kinds of public locations and at their home.

However, the cities haven’t created a central body to develop and oversee region-wide infrastructure plans and proposals and haven’t agreed upon any uniform deadline for infrastructure projects, Newsom said. Instead, cities will work separately on EV projects and will compete with one another to become more EV-ready.

To ensure Nissan and other manufacturers have a market in San Francisco, Newsom said city officials have been working on a long list of initiatives to convince residents to purchase the cars.

“As the technology will take shape, the demand will take shape,” he said.

He said he wants to install charge stations at parking pay stations, at stations connected to streetlights, and in parking garages. The City is planning more than 200 charge stations in parking garages over next year and half, Newsom said.

Along with offering speedy permits for charging stations at home, Newsom said he also wants to offer the permits for free to the first 1,000 residents installing a home charging station.

The City will use a few million dollars in federal grants for EV-readiness, Newsom said.

The Nissan LEAF can carry five passengers, travel 90 mph and run for 100 miles after an 8-hour charge, the company said. Its price-point was not released, but will cost as much as a Honda Civic when considering available tax breaks and lower fuel costs, Nissan executive Brian Carolin said.

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