16 May 2010

Hawaii Taking the Lead for Electric and Fuel-Cell Vehicles

USA Today

The hottest state for alternative-energy cars? Could it be California, with its non-existent Hydrogen Highway? Washington Oregon, the Evergreen State that is literally green? Nope and nope. It's Hawaii, which is on an absolute green-car roll -- both hydrogen and electric.

No other state -- hush up for a moment, Michigan -- such a quick succession of big news regarding their green-car future. Why Hawaii? Because it has to import every drop of gasoline and has always had some of the highest fuel prices in the nation. Also it scenic beauty makes it an environmental haven and any efforts in that regard looks good to the tourists. Hawaii has scored:

    * A commitment from Nissan to be among the first states to get its hands on the new Leaf electric vehicle.
    * Nice, commitment-free words from General Motors about Hawaii's abundance of hydrogen and what a nice place it could become for fuel-cell vehicles.
    * A start-up electric vehicle maker has just set up shop in Hawaii, not generally a haven of manufacturing since it's at least 2,000 miles of beautiful blue water from just about anywhere.

Nissan's announcement is probably the most significant:

It's one of only a few "launch markets" for $32,780 Leaf, the first modern pure electric car from a major established automaker to hit the market. Not bad for a state that is often treated as an afterthought.

"We appreciate Nissan's recognition of Hawaii as a global model for electric vehicles and a leader in clean energy," said Gov. Linda Lingle. "The introduction of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security."

On the island of Oahu, GM has struck up a relationship with Hawaii's biggest natural gas provider.

The Gas Co. -- creative name, eh, for the island's big gas utility -- produces hydrogen that could be tapped for fuel-cell vehicles. It's also in keepin with Hawaii's goal of trying to reduce oil use by 70%. But unlike Nissan, GM doesn't make any commitment of vehicles or resources to Hawaii.

A South Korean company, CT&T, however, has signed an agreement to make electric vehicles in Hawaii.

The company says it will build a factory that could produce 10,000 of its twin-seat electric vehicles a year.

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