Nissan unveils (sort of ) new electric Leaf at August luncheon
By Paul Borden- Photos by  Pepe Delfino & Pepe Forte

Bright and sunny was the day when 35 SAMA members and guests gathered at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant for the August luncheon, 
and “bright and sunny” might be the words to describe the outlook for the Nissan’s new zero emissions vehicle, the Leaf.
No, Nissan, the sponsor of the August event, didn’t have the new electric vehicle it unveiled on August 2 in Japan at the restaurant for us to view, but in an informative Power Point presentation, Mark Perry, director, Product Planning and Strategy for Nissan North America, gave us an overview of the vehicle and what is being done to bring it to market. 

Perry and Tracy Woodard, Director, Government Affairs for Nissan, are in the process of touring the country to work with government and private enterprise to help set up the infrastructure that will make the concept of an electric vehicle practical. Yes, the Leaf is a plug-in, and that is fine if you have the eight hours to charge the battery overnight. But charging stations could cut that time down to well under an hour, especially when the battery is only partially depleted. Such stations could replenish the battery from zero to 80 percent of full capacity in just 20 minutes, Perry said. That’s a significant development. Of course, it’s not like the Leaf driver is going to have to “fill up” at every other corner recharge station. The Leaf has a projected range of 100 miles on a full charge, which covers most of our daily driving 

While Perry spoke of the need for building an infrastructure to support such vehicles of the future, he also gave a brief overview of the vehicle itself, noting that it is a real-world car, a five-door hatchback that seats five adults and offers the advantages of zero emissions, is affordable (pricing is not determined yet, but it is expected to be in the Altima, Camry, Accord range of $25K to $35K), and has a low total cost of ownership. Also, the Leaf is no more than 14 months away from hitting showrooms in from 10 to 15 selected markets and will be mass marketed by 2012. 

We want to thank Mark and Tracy for making Miami one of the stops on their nationwide tour and our good friend and SAMA member Julie Lawless for arranging to sponsor the event. Also representing Nissan at the luncheon was Ray Jimenez, Dealer and Operations Manager for the Southeast Region for Nissan. 

Before the presentation, SAMA President Ron Beasley conducted a brief but very significant business session. Members in attendance gave their unanimous approval to the proposed constitution and by-laws that came out of the July workshop. Pepe Delfino made the motion to accept the proposed document and Alex Vitale seconded the motion. Members should have received a copy of the proposal 
with the email invitation to the luncheon, but if you didn’t, it is posted on the website. Ron also reminded members that the new constitution calls for nominations of officers at the October meeting with the election to follow in November. New officers then will take office in January. 

Speaking of the October meeting, John Kiskinis announced that the South Florida Auto Dealers will sponsor the luncheon on Oct. 15 at Cafe Avanti in Miami Beach. This will be a preview of the auto show coming up just eight days later. 
And speaking of the auto show, Ron also announced that instead of a breakfast this year, we will have a luncheon at the show on press day Oct. 23 (late risers can rejoice.) Jaguar, which is sponsoring the event, agreed to the change and will unveil a new model at a press conference just before the luncheon. 

At the auto show luncheon, we will announce our annual auto show awards (Star of the Show, Concept Vehicle of the Show and Green Vehicle of the Show). Giorgio Cerboncini has agreed to chair the judging committee and will be looking for volunteers to serve on it. If you can break away from your other responsibilities the afternoon of Oct. 22, consider volunteering as a judge. Also at the luncheon, we will present the first Terry Jackson Memorial Award to a SAMA member who has contributed significantly to our organization and the South Florida automotive community. 

But before all that, we also have another luncheon coming up in September to be sponsored by Audi and our good friend, Andrew Lipman. That event will be Sept. 24 at the Rusty Pelican, so you can mark your calendars (do people actually mark calendars these days?) 
More details will be forthcoming in the official invitation.

Click on pictures to enlarge