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Nissan Electric Car Sales Booming In Pacific Northwest

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. The announcement Wednesday runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.

At Nissan USA headquarters, electric vehicle marketing & sales director Erik Gottfried says he's scrambling to ship enough Leafs to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The car maker juiced its plug-in sales by slashing the sticker price and offering low-cost leases.

Gottfried says that was made possible by opening a domestic production line in Tennessee. "By moving production to the United States we have a little more control of our production costs and we're not subject to shipping costs from Japan on boats and we also don't have foreign exchange rate fluctuations."

A Nissan dealership in Bellevue, Washington claims it’s the No. 1 seller of electric Leafs in the nation.

The electric vehicle coordinator at Oregon's Department of Transportation says increased product availability is spurring EV sales across many brands. ODOT's Ashley Horvat says having a "very robust" charging network has also helped. Oregon claims to have the most EV charging stations per capita of any state.

The uptick in electric vehicle adoption vanishes as you move inland. Idaho's Motor Vehicle Division says it has registered fewer than 100 purely electric cars total.

On the Web:

Nissan LEAF Crosses 25,000 U.S. Sales Milestone - Nissan USA 
National hybrid and electric vehicle sales figures -

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.