Is the electric vehicle for real this time?
Nissan is betting it is. And so is "Who Killed the Electric Car?" director Chris Paine.
The Nissan LEAF Zero Emmission Tour kicked off at Pier 59 Studios West in Santa Monica on Friday night with a launch party which featured the 100% electric car on display. The camera was rolling for Paine's follow-up to his Sony Pictures Classics documentary on the destruction of the General Motors EV1 in the 1990s.
The title of the film will be "Revenge of the Electric Car" and camera operator Steve Payne took a moment from shooting to sit down and talk about the project.
"I think because we have a change in the administration, these guys seem a little bit greener. Probably not as green as they should be, but it's better than what it was," said Payne. "I'm happy to see the car companies doing electric stuff without having their arms twisted so far. They can see there is a market there."
In fact in a shocking reversal, General Motors participated in the making of the film. Not only did GM throw a launch party for the Chevrolet Volt -- its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle -- at Paine's Marrakesh House in the Hollywood Hills, but Paine ended up interviewing GM Chairman Edward Whitacre, Jr.
The actual first showing for the Nissan LEAF North American tour took place at Dodger Stadium on Friday afternoon, which included members of the media and EV enthusiasts who participated in a panel discussion and test drove a prototype.
After Los Angeles, the LEAF will head to San Diego, San Francisco and then make its way across the country with stops in major cities along the way, including the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Both the Volt and the LEAF will start rolling out in late 2010 with the price tag rumored to be around $30,000 for the LEAF and near $40,000 for the Volt, minus a $7,500 Federal tax credit and any state tax credits.
The first two years of the LEAF's production will take place in Japan before moving in 2012 to a vehicle and lithium ion battery manufacturing facility based in Smyrna, Tennessee.
"Part of the whole challenge we think on EVs is having a dialogue with people because there is so much information you have to transfer," said Tim Gallagher, Nissan North America's West Coast rep. "The best way to do that is really from a grassroots standpoint."