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Nissan and Chevrolet unveil electric cars in San Diego

20 November 2009 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

See original story on SDNN

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The race for electric cars is heating up.

Two major car makers — Nissan and Chevrolet — are unveiling their electric cars in San Diego this Thursday and Friday.

Nissan is showcasing its all-electric car Thursday at the headquarters of San Diego Gas & Electric, which is a regional partner. The Nissan Leaf, which has zero emissions, hits the mainstream market in December 2010. The car will also be on display at a public event Saturday.

Chevrolet is offering a sneak peek of its extended-range electric car, called the Volt. The event takes place Friday in Solana Beach, at a private reception organized by the Eco Investment Club, a network of entrepreneurs, investors and educators in the green economy.

The Volt is a hybrid-electric car that runs on a lithium-ion battery with a gasoline-powered engine. It will be launched in the market in 2010.

“As the region becomes a pioneer launch site for these advanced vehicles and the charging infrastructure, San Diego will continue on its course to become ‘plug-in ready’ and a national center for clean technology, fostering less dependence on fossil fuels, new ‘green’ jobs and a healthier environment,” said Debra L. Reed, president of SDG&E, in an advance press statement.

The introduction of the Nissan Leaf is part of an overall plan with SDG&E to create a network of electric charging stations linked to a smart grid throughout San Diego County.  A lack of infrastructure has long been an obstacle to widespread use of electric cars.

But two major grants this year jumpstarted the region’s electric infrastructure needs. One, from the U.S. Department of Energy for $99.8 million in five markets, funds electric transportation projects. Another, from the California Energy Commission for $8 million, supports infrastructure development.

These grants will help SDG&E build up to 2,250 electric charging stations throughout San Diego County in the next several years. About 1,000 Nissan Leaf vehicles will be delivered to fleet operators and private customers in late 2010. They are expected to reach the mass consumer market by 2012.

The Leaf is a midsize hatchback that can run 100 miles on a single charge. Using a lithium-ion battery and zero-emission battery, it can reach more than 75 miles per hour.

The Leaf will be on display Saturday at the San Diego Alternative Fuels Education Day.

It is open to the public at the Towne and Country Resort and Convention Center, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is also on display in the Gaslamp Quarter, at 5th and J streets, Friday, from 6 to 10 p.m.

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

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