Hawaiian Electric

One of the things that electric car skeptics roll out with when talking about the potential proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) is that consumers will be concerned with the limited range offered.

One of the things that electric car skeptics roll out with when talking about the potential proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) is that consumers will be concerned with the limited range offered. That range, of course, is in comparison to gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles.

What they’re not necessarily taking into account is the facilitation that governments may provide to encourage the use of EVs.

Case in point: yesterday Nissan North America and the state of Hawaii announced a partnership “to advance zero-emission mobility by promoting the development of electric vehicles, and an electric-vehicle charging network, throughout the state.”

Nissan’s interest is obvious, because they want to move as many 2011 LEAF EVs as they can, and the state of Hawaii is an ideal place to do it. Consider: you could drive from Honolulu to Haleiwa and back—this is right across Oahu—and at about 62 miles round trip, that would leave some 35 miles or so left in the lithium-ion batteries. Ideally, you could go to the North Shore and charge while you surf or charge while you shop at Ala Moana.

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Presently the state offers a $4,500 tax credit toward the purchase of an EV (any make, not just Nissan) and a $500 state tax credit for the purchase and installation of a home charging station. Take that, and roll in an available $7,500 federal tax credit, and it is possible for a Hawaiian to get a LEAF for $20,780.

In talking about the program, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle (R) stated, “By bringing the Nissan LEAF to Hawaii and working collaboratively with the State and our partners toward the electrification of transportation, Nissan is playing an important role in helping us achieve the goal of reducing our dependence on imported oil.” And as Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D) noted, “More than 90% of the fuel and energy we consume in Hawaii is the product of imported oil.”

Ever fill up a rental in Hawaii after your days of fun in the sun? It’s not so much fun.

To the extent that states work with companies like Nissan, there will undoubtedly be traction gained for EVs. While there could be some question regarding the role that governments ought to play in transportation issues, consider this: what if President Eisenhower hadn’t signed the act in 1956 that led to the development of the interstate highway system? How would that have worked out for car industry and consumers?