The electrification of the car is happening with the Chevrolet Volt and this Nissan LEAF already available to order and even more electric cars arriving later in 2012. As we will see more and more plug-in options, the question is whether the public has the appetite to ''take a chance'' on something new, when there are high-tech gasoline, hybrid and diesel models getting better and better fuel economy. Another hurdle for many perspective electric car buyers is the price of an electric car, when efficient transportation can be had for a fraction of the price. If hybrid cars are the barometers of electric car sales, the road to electrification will be slow; in the ten-plus years that hybrids have been sold in Canada roughly 60,000 have been purchased. That's about the number of Honda Civics sold in one year. For the small number of buyers who are willing to take a chance on something new the Nissan LEAF is a very interesting car.
Nissan has struck a nice balance of traditional hatchback design with a futuristic, green look. There is no question the LEAF is something special, mostly due to the lack of tailpipe and flip-up cover on the hood that conceals the electric receptacle. The LEAF comes standard with an ''opportunity'' 120V charging cord that has a regular electrical plug on one end and a universal electric-car plug on the other. With this setup, it takes roughly 8 hours to fully charge the LEAF. To charge using a 240V electrical current (the same power used for an electric stove), requires a charging station to be installed at the owners expense and might not be possible in all homes. In order to plug the LEAF in at my home, I needed to park in my back lane and run the cord from my garage. Not ideal, having a proper 240V setup would make life much easier for everyday use.