Electric vehicles in Hawaii one year later

Nick Ching, Senior Specialist of the Nissan Leaf
Nick Ching, Senior Specialist of the Nissan Leaf
Bill Markevitch, first Nissan Leaf owner in Hawaii
Bill Markevitch, first Nissan Leaf owner in Hawaii
Henry Wong
Henry Wong

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state average for regular unleaded gasoline right now is $4.23. That's up 16 cents in the last month.  Of course, that's meaningless to Bill Markevitch.  He bought the state's very first electronic vehicle a year ago.

After a year out on the road the first Nissan Leaf in Hawaii is now back at the dealership for a maintenance check.

"There's less to do maintenance wise," said Nick Ching, Senior Specialist of the Nissan Leaf.

Of course there's no oil or filters to change which does save money.  Although the car is new so it's tough to say how much replacement parts may eventually cost especially the battery.  Fortunately Markevitch says it is under warranty for 8 years or 100,000 miles.

"You are saving a couple hundred now but maybe in the long run you might spend more on this car for parts but it's hard to say," said Ching.

It did take about 90 minutes to update the computer software.

It needs to be charged often which also costs electricity.

"A full charge or 100 miles is about $6," said Bill Markevitch, first Nissan Leaf owner in Hawaii.

That is a bit higher than the $4.50 he paid before electric rates starting going up but still less than he paid with gas.

We spoke with three Leaf owners today.  One says his electric bill went up about $160 a month since plugging in his car and that's even with a photovoltaic system.  But the other two say they pay about $40 to $50 more on electricity a month after getting their car.

"The cost savings is really fantastic," said Henry Wong, who bought his Leaf in August.

"I couldn't be happier," said Markevitch. "Some friends have asked me what the down side is. I think the only downside is that you are limited to driving 100 miles."

More places are installing charging stations like the new one at Pearlridge Mall.  Add to that the car doesn't release any emissions so less smog in the air.

"It makes you feel great that you're driving a car that does so little to pollute the environment," said Wong.

And it's tough to put a price on that.

The Nissan Leaf is around $35,000 but the tax credits are still in place.  There is talk the federal credit could go up to $10,000.  And the state credit of up to $4,500 lasts until March 31 or until the funds run out. As of February 8 there was still $120,460 in rebate funds left.

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