Nissan Leaf makes its Tri-City debut

PASCO — Greg Payne is one of 261 people in the world who owns a fully electric Nissan Leaf.

And he’s the first to buy one in the Tri-City area.

“I think it’s exciting,” said Payne as he stood beside his new vehicle Monday afternoon at George Gee Nissan in Pasco. “We’ve waited for a long time,” he added.

The Leaf is the first mass-produced, fully electric vehicle that’s affordable, said Jeff Jackson, the Nissan dealer’s electric vehicle specialist.

Although other car makers make fully electric cars, they sell for about $70,000 and up, Jackson said.

The 2011 Nissan Leaf costs about $34,000. Payne and his family paid no state sales tax as Washington exempts fully electric vehicles from sales tax.

The Paynes also will receive a $7,500 federal tax credit as part of the purchase.

But what the Paynes like the most about the vehicle are its other features.

“It’s real quiet,” Payne said.

The vehicle also will require little maintenance, he said, as there is no gasoline engine and it has a simple transmission.

But best of all, he likes that he won’t have to fill it with gas and it won’t release any harmful emissions. Even when he does charge it, he won’t feel guilty, as many local energy sources, such as dams and wind mills, are relatively clean energies, Payne said.

The car can be driven about 100 miles on one charge. It comes with what’s called a trickle charger that allows the owner to charge it through a regular electrical outlet in up to 16 hours.

Or the Paynes may charge it at their home charging dock in up to eight hours. George Gee Nissan also has invested about $50,000 in installing five charging stations for customer use.

Standard on the vehicle is a navigation system that includes regularly updated information on the location of other charging stations.

For now, Greg Payne’s wife, Kris, will be using the car mainly for her 20-mile, round-trip commute to her job at CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.

The couple said they had first test driven a fully electric car at an electric car show about 12 or 15 years ago while living in California.

“Now that it’s kind of mainstream and the car of the future, it was something we wanted to do,” Greg Payne said.

The couple’s children, Emma, 11, and Sam, 8, clearly were excited about the new family vehicle.

“I think it’s great that it’s electric, and it doesn’t need gas and it can help the world,” Sam said.

Jackson said those who want to know more about the Nissan Leaf may visit or call him at 509-545-3000.

A demonstration car will be on display at the dealership in April.

* Kathy Korengel: 509-582-1541;