Nissan Leaf Becomes Orlando's Official Electric Car for Visitors

The Nissan Leaf has become the de facto official electric car for visitors to the nation’s biggest rental-car market thanks to a new city program announced Thursday.

The Drive Electric Orlando makes 15 Nissan Leafs available for rent from Enterprise Rent-A-Car at just $30 a day. Those who take advantage of the offer will be able to charge the car for free at any one of about 300 charging stations at hotels and other locations throughout the greater Orlando area.

The program was devised as the first of its kind in the nation by the Washington, D.C.-based Electrification Coalition in conjunction with Enterprise, several hotels, corporations, including Nissan, and local officials.

The Leafs can be rented at the Enterprise counter at the Orlando International Airport. The cars’ range of about 80 to 100 miles (130 to 160 kilometers) are augmented by charging kiosks located at over 25 hotels, including the Peabody Orlando and Renaissance Orlando, as well as major public places like the Orlando Convention Center and even City Hall. More charging stations are said to be “in the works”.

The locations of the nearest charging stations are programmed to display on the dashboard displays of the Leafs if they run low on charge. The local AAA is equipped to respond to a dead battery with a free charge, according to Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

The program hopes to win over prospective car buyers for the Leaf and other electrics by showcasing the savings from not having to pay for fillups at gas stations. It also hopes to rid drivers of the range-anxiety that afflicts many at the thought of owning an electric car. The program even saves drivers the small costs associated with recharging at public meters. Drivers can simply wave a key fob to access a free charge.

With a sticker of just $29,650 including destination charges, the Nissan Leaf is currently the most affordable among the current crop of all-electric cars. It is also offered for lease at $1,999 down and $199 a month.

Electric car sales have been accelerating in the US this year, thanks in large part to the success of the Tesla Model S which has a range of almost 300 miles with the larger of its two battery options. Its base price is about $70,000 when equipped with the smaller battery and up to about $120,000 with the larger battery and various luxe options. It is already outselling all other luxury cars in the $70,000-plus price range, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Cadillac which each sell about 25,000 units per year.