August 8, 2011 in Idaho

Idaho at end of list for electric vehicles

Cars work best in urban areas
Associated Press
 

BOISE – Idaho will be among the last states where electric cars will be sold, officials from the auto industry say.

Representatives from Nissan Motor Co. told the Idaho Business Review that the plug-in Leaf won’t be available in the state until the end of 2012. And a spokeswoman for General Motors Co. said the Chevrolet Volt will be available to order by the end of this year, though it’s unclear when deliveries might start.

Officials said one reason for the delay is that Idaho’s spread-out population works against the cars. They operate best in urban areas due to their limited range. Another reason is that the cars do better in warmer climates, so early introductions have been in southern states and the West Coast.

Also, Idaho has no public charging stations.

“This is sort of like a chicken and egg thing, where people say, ‘We don’t want to put the infrastructure in place until we know there’s going to be a market,’ ” said David Solan, head of the energy policy institute at Boise State.

But some charging stations are scattered around, with one at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho, and another at Dennis Dillon Nissan in Boise.

The Leaf has a range of about 100 miles, while the Volt’s is larger because it has a backup gasoline engine in case the car’s electric charge runs out. The Volt costs about $40,000, while the Leaf costs about $35,000. There’s a $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers.

Bruce Rattner, executive manager at Dennis Dillon Nissan, said there is demand in the more populated southwest Idaho.

“I get weekly calls from people asking about this,” he said.

Tim Gallagher, a California-based spokesman for Nissan, said the company has sold 3,800 Leafs in the United States this year.

“It’s not the highest volume car we’re going to sell in our lineup, but our chairman has made it clear that we want to be a leader in zero-emissions technology,” Gallagher said.

Leafs can be purchased in Portland and Seattle. Owners can install a charging station at home, or they can plug it into a regular 120-volt power source, though that takes twice as long as a 240-volt source.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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