Electric Cars are almost here!

A small number of electric vehicles (EV) are already on Seattle’s roads. Most existing EVs are Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, which are limited to 35 mph and local streets, specialty vehicles, like the Tesla Roadster, and retrofitted hybrids. But, starting in 2010, Nissan plans to sell the first all-electric highway-capable passenger car—the LEAF—in the Seattle area. Industry experts predict as many as a dozen electric car models will be on the market by 2012.

New LEAF all-electric highway-capable passenger car

New LEAF all-electric highway-capable passenger car

The City of Seattle is working hard to ensure that our community is “plug-in ready” when significant numbers of electric cars hit our region in fall 2010. With the help of millions in federal stimulus dollars, the City is part of a collaboration–including Puget Sound local governments, businesses, nonprofits, and electric vehicle enthusiasts–to create a robust regional charging infrastructure for the electric vehicles. In fact, the Seattle area has been selected by the US Department of Energy to be part of the largest electric vehicle demonstration project in US history, aptly named The EV Project.

Rear side of the new LEAF all-electric highway-capable passenger car

Rear side of the new LEAF all-electric highway-capable passenger car

Promoting electric vehicles is an important part of the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases from cars and trucks on Seattle’s roads, which make up 40% of our citywide footprint and are the single largest source of emissions. To reduce our transportation footprint, the City is pursuing a two-part strategy. The first part focuses on increasing investment in transportation choices so that residents and businesses can walk, bike, or take transit. The second part focuses on improving vehicle efficiency so that the remaining cars and trucks on Seattle roads have a smaller greenhouse gas impact.

Plug-in electric vehicles are an exciting step forward in efficiency, especially here in Seattle where the vehicles will be powered by the clean energy of Seattle City Light. In fact, if the average Seattleite switched to an electric car, it would eliminate more than four tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Learn more about the City’s Plug-In Ready Project or come take a look at the new LEAF on display at Winterfest, which is held at the Seattle Center on December 12th, 2009. They’ll be next to the ice rink in a tent!