Why only one Leaf owner in Minnesota?


This new Nissan Leaf, an all electric-powered car, is in David Thompson’s Eden Prairie driveway.

There may be one other at a Twin Cities auto dealership.

Why so few?

Nissan has apparently adopted a marketing strategy of selling the first Leafs in selected states. And Minnesota is not one of them.

How did Thompson get his?

Strictly on the up and up. He owns property in Arizona, one of the Nissan-anointed states for Leaf sales, and snared one there.

Thompson says the four-passenger (or five if the bodies are lean) Leaf retails for about $35,000.

There’s a federal tax break of about $7,500 he says, and some other states, but not Minnesota, offer a tax break on electric vehicles.

There are lots of ways to slice and dice how much a driver saves by owning an electric vehicle. Thompson, a businessman not unfamiliar with numbers, says he calculates he’ll save about $275 a month in gasoline costs as he uses his Leaf for sales visits around the Twin Cities. He says an electric “fill” or recharge costs about $3.

Thompson says the car’s range is about 85 miles before it runs out of juice, so he has to think a bit about where, and how far, he’s going. Longer road trips are not much of a possibility. And, of course, he’s anticipating the car’s range will drop to about 60 miles with colder weather.

So, why is Nissan so parsimonious with Leaf sales?

Thompson’s theory is the company doesn’t want to sell a bunch of the cars until there are more places to plug in.

This is an issue.

In Minnesota the electric vehicle advocates are trying to address the situation. In St. Paul, for example, the city working with Xcel Energy and the Neighborhood Energy Connection, is putting 20 high-powered plug-in stations at different locations, including some parking ramps.

It’ll cost electric vehicle owners anywhere from a $1 to $3, plus parking fees, to plug in and power up.