Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That creaking sound? It's just the electric car revolution, busting its shackles.

That creaking sound you hear may be the Hawai'i electric car revolution about to bust its shackles.

There are now three major international players ready to begin feeding ecars onto Hawaiian roads. The three are Israel's Project Better Place, Korean CT&T cars and Japan's Nissan.

(Image: Nissan's Leaf, for which you can now start placing orders. Credit: Nissan USA.)

And that's not counting the domestic cars, like Chevy's upcoming Volt, the state's small fleet of golf-carty GEM cars, and of course, the Tesla Roadster, of which a half dozen are already silently cruising our byways.

Yesterday, Nissan unveiled an agreement with the state of Hawai'i to develop a charging infrastructure for electric cars, including its Leaf electric car. Nissan in May announced that Hawai'i would be one of its roll-out states for the Leaf, which could be selling in the Islands as early January 2011. (But, yeah, those dates do tend to slide.)

You can reserve a Leaf effective today (9/1/10) at this site.

Also in May, the South Korean auto manufacturer CT&T announced it would build a manufacturing plant in Honolulu to produce its ecar. One model is a small pickup truck, which shows that CT&T has an understanding of the Hawai'i market.

Here's what they look like.

Project Better Place has a unique approach, which includes a charging grid powered by renewables. You'd own the car, and Better Place would manage the batteries. It has been working with the state since 2008.

Is there a demand for all this interest? Forbes just ran an article about Maui entrepreneur David Noon, who does electric car conversions—switching perfectly good automobiles from gas to electric power for the folks who just can't wait for the revolution.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2010

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