LOS ANGELES --- Nissan Motor Co. kicked off the U.S. tour of its Leaf electric car prototype on Friday, Nov. 13, with a press event in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. 

At the event, Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn called the Leaf the "first affordable electric car." Though Nissan hasn't yet announced a price for the model, Ghosn said it will be up to 2 percent more expensive than a gas-powered Nissan of comparable size, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The Leaf prototype is a zero-emission, four-door, powder-blue hatchback. The Leaf has a range of 100 miles per charge under average, everyday driving conditions. The battery will charge in four to eight hours on a 220V home charging unit. At quick-charge stations, it will charge to 80 percent in about 26 minutes, Nissan said. The automaker is developing its own battery to power the vehicle. Nissan plans to lease the battery to car buyers.

Ghosn also announced that Nissan and Reliant Energy of Houston, Texas,  have forged an agreement to advance zero-emission mobility in the United States. The collaboration will help pave the way for the 2010 introduction of the Leaf, he said. Nissan expects to begin sales in late 2010. Reliant is a subsidiary of NRG Energy Inc., one of the largest electricity generators in the United States.



The vehicle debut at Dodger Stadium was followed by a panel discussion. Participants included Ghosn, Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board; David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy, of which Reliant is a subsidiary; and Patricia Monahan, deputy director of Clean Vehicles Program and director of the California office of the Union of Concerned Scientists.


"The Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed to becoming a global leader in zero emissions," said Ghosn, who also is chairman and CEO of Renault. "Together, Nissan and Reliant Energy share the vision that electric vehicles offer the best solution to reducing CO2 emissions. The Nissan Leaf is the only all-electric, zero-emission vehicle that will be available to drivers on a mass-market scale and at an affordable price."


As part of the agreement, Nissan and Reliant Energy will develop plans to promote a charging infrastructure for electric cars that encourages home and workplace charging, as well as a public charging infrastructure. The companies will work to establish policies and help streamline charging infrastructure deployment. Nissan also has agreed to make available a supply of electric vehicles to Reliant and in its areas of operation.


"This agreement with Nissan is another part of our comprehensive effort to speed up the adoption of a broad-based electric-powered transportation ecosystem," said David Crane, CEO of NRG.


"We can now see a clear path to having thousands -- even hundreds of thousands -- of zero-emission vehicles on Texas roads in the next several years," said Jason Few, president of Reliant Energy.

The "Nissan Leaf Zero Emission Tour" will make stops in 22 cities, in 11 states, the District of Columbia, and Vancouver, Canada. Here's the tour schedule:

Southern California
Los Angeles: Nov. 13-17
Orange County: Nov. 18
San Diego: Nov. 19-21

Northern California
Berkeley/Walnut Creek: Nov. 23-24
San Francisco: Nov. 25-29
Santa Rosa: Dec. 1
Sacramento: Dec. 1
San Jose: Dec. 3-6

Pacific Northwest
Seattle: Dec. 8-12
Vancouver, Canada: Dec. 14-15
Portland, Ore.: Dec. 17-23

Phoenix/Tucson: Dec. 30-Jan. 5
Las Vegas: Jan. 6

Midwest/East Coast
Detroit: Jan. 11-13
Knoxville/Chattanooga, Tenn.: Jan. 16
Middle Tennessee: Jan. 19-21
Washington, D.C.: Jan. 26-28
Raleigh, N.C.: Jan. 29
Orlando: Feb. 1-2

Houston: Feb. 5-6

New York
New York City: Feb. 9-14