Out of all the snazzy electric cars announced in the past year, the Nissan Leaf might be the most exciting. It's affordable ($25,000 to $30,000), attractive enough, gets 100 miles to the charge, and is almost ready to roll into showrooms. So this week's announcement from the DOE that Nissan will get a $1.4 billion loan for a Leaf production plant is particularly exciting.
The loan is part of the DOE's larger $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which was announced in 2007. It will be a boon to Nissan--the company says that the loan will allow it to create 1,300 new jobs when the Smyrna, Tennessee, plant is ready for production. At full capacity, the plant will produce 150,000 vehicles and up to 200,000 lithium-ion batteries each year.
So while it's encouraging that the DOE has already given big loans to startups like Tesla and Fisker, we're glad to see that a company producing a slightly less flashy, more affordable car is getting a major cash infusion as well. Because people love to ogle sportscars like the Tesla Roadster, but in the end, ultra-expensive cars like that won't lead to any sort of EV revolution.