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In Nebraska, “green” has never looked this blue.
Roger and Nicole Paulman on Friday became the owners of an “ocean blue,” all-electric Nissan Leaf, the first sold and delivered in Nebraska. To finally get the keys to their environmentally friendly Leaf was a welcome end to a plodding, two-year process that involved a waiting list to get the new, $38,000 sedan.
“It actually exceeds our expectations — which is really hard to do given the buildup of two years waiting,” said Roger Paulman, 32, who works as a fellow at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Roger's wife, Nicole Paulman, 34, will be the primary driver of the new Leaf. But it was really Roger and his love for technology that landed them the gasless Leaf.
“He picks them, I drive them,” said Nicole, a physician at Methodist Hospital.
The Leaf, which was first released to dealerships on the coasts and in major cities at the end of 2010, has taken some time to finally arrive in Nebraska. The timeline was lengthened by lower demand here for the vehicle, natural disasters in Japan that hampered Nissan's supply chain and the state's overall lower population.
Because of the state's spread-out landscape, the vehicle's range of 100 miles on a full charge doesn't make it a viable alternative for many people with lengthy commutes, said Adam Ciochetto, a sales consultant who handles Leaf sales at Woodhouse Nissan in Bellevue.
“Omaha truly needs a little bit better of electrical vehicle infrastructure,” he said. “When that infrastructure comes, I think it might be more plausible to do an Omaha-to-Lincoln commute.”
The car also is out of the price range of many consumers.
However, the Paulmans said the Leaf will be a perfect fit for their lifestyle.
Nicole said she and Roger ride together. Not including the short trip to drop their two young children at day care, it's a short five minutes from home to work every day. In the winter and on long trips, they'll drive a 1999 Subaru station wagon.
In addition to the Paulmans' Leaf, Woodhouse Nissan also received three other models. Two already are taken by two of the roughly dozen people on Woodhouse's Leaf waiting list, and the other will remain on the lot for sale and to use as a model for showing potential buyers, Ciochetto said.
After the initial wave of Nebraskans who have been waiting patiently for the vehicle to arrive, Ciochetto said the sales process will be similar to other gas-powered vehicles, but different in that the customer has to have an in-home charging station prepared, and the car has to be fully charged before it leaves the lot.
While the Paulmans' Leaf is the first to be delivered and sold in Nebraska, it is not the first Leaf to be licensed and registered in the state. A Leaf owner in Lancaster County purchased a vehicle in Denver, according to Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles data.
In contrast, there are 76 Chevrolet Volts — GM's electric car that has an auxiliary gas-powered engine — in Nebraska, with a heavy concentration in and around Omaha and Lincoln, according to the DMV.
GM suspended Volt production for at least five weeks beginning March 19 to better align supply to demand. 2011 sales were fewer than 8,000 cars. March sales, however, were the best ever and, if that pace holds up, Chevy could sell as many as 25,000 Volts this year.
The base price for a Volt basic model is $31,645.
The base Leaf price is $27,700. As of May, Leaf sales around the globe had reached roughly 30,000.
Over the next year, Ciochetto doesn't want to specify sales goals or expectations for the Leaf locally, but he is confident that Nebraska Leaf owners will rival the number driving Volts.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “We've had a lot of interest in this car.”
During a tutorial with Ciochetto, Nicole Paulman unlocked the driver-side front door with a sensor key and took a seat in the tan cloth seat. After placing the sensor key on the dash, she pushed the ignition button and the Leaf started up, sounding more like an oscillating office fan than a full-size, four-passenger vehicle.
Of all the advantages the Leaf brings — synchronizing with the Paulmans' Apple iPhones, greatly reducing their carbon footprint and making them one of the first Leaf owners in the state — Roger Paulman said the best of all is cutting his family's tie to gasoline.
“We are going to get to drive by all these gas stations, and we'll never have to stop,” he said. “Well, maybe for the bathroom.”
Contact the writer: 402-444-1414, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/rossboettcher
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The keys to Nebraska's first Nissan Leaf were handed over to its new owners. Watch the video to learn more about the electric car: