A local UCSB physics professor, Roger Freedman, will take delivery of the region’s first mass market pure electric vehicle, a Nissan Leaf, on Saturday, March 12 at 11 am at Santa Barbara Nissan, 425 South Kellogg Avenue, Goleta. The event is open to the public.

The vehicle is the first of thousands of electric vehicles that are projected to appear on local streets in the next few years, and a newly formed group, Plug in Santa Barbara, is preparing for the arrival of these environmentally friendly vehicles.

Nissan Leaf

The Leaf is a pure electric vehicle which the EPA rates at 106 mpg equivalent in the city, 92 mpg equivalent on the highway, 99 mpg equivalent combined. The Leaf has zero tailpipe emissions, and on California’s clean electricity grid reduces greenhouse gases by around 75 percent. California is an exceptional place to leverage the benefits of an electric car, as the local Southern California Edison grid contains almost 20 percent renewable energy like wind, geothermal, and solar, and contains very little coal. Electric vehicles will get cleaner as they age, as the amount of renewable energy in California is mandated to increase to 33 percent by 2020.

The Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt (a plug in hybrid electric vehicle, also available now) are the first of around a dozen electric vehicles expected to be on the market by 2012. In fact, Southern California Edison recently projected Santa Barbara to be in the top four early adopter markets out of the 180 cities in their service territory. To prepare for these new vehicles, the Community Environmental Council is organizing Plug in Santa Barbara, a group of government, utility, business and other stakeholders working to build out a public charging infrastructure, reduce barriers to electric vehicles, and attract state and federal funding to our region.

“Electric vehicles are the largest revolution in a century of driving. As electric motors are three times as efficient as gasoline motors, and can be powered by renewable electricity, plug-in cars will help us transition to a future free from dependence on imported fossil fuels” explained Michael Chiacos, Transportation Specialist at the Community Environmental Council. “Electric vehicles can take advantage of California’s clean electric grid, one of the least polluting in the nation, and ones that park near and draw power from a building with solar panels can literally be “driving on sunshine.”

“The interest in the Leaf is over the top” said Gordon Jenkins, Leaf Product Specialist at Santa Barbara Nissan. “We expect to deliver 20 Leafs in the next 45 days and I’m getting a dozen calls a day, especially with gas prices hitting $4 a gallon.” He continued, “Even some of the service guys, who were naysayers about electric vehicles, took one spin and came back amazed at this revolutionary new vehicle. This in no golf cart!”

The owner of the first Leaf and representatives from the Community Environmental Council and Santa Barbara Nissan will be on hand to answer questions at the event. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view the vehicle and learn more about Plug in Santa Barbara.

To follow the Plug in Santa Barbara efforts, visit www.tinyurl.com/pluginsb or “like” Plug in Santa Barbara on Facebook.

For information from Southern California Edison about preparing for electric vehicles, visit www.sce.com/pev

About the Community Environmental Council

The Community Environmental Council is forty-year old environmental non-profit focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy, sustainable transportation, peak oil and climate change. Our goal is to end our region’s dependency on fossil fuels in one generation – Fossil Free by 2033.


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