Houston-Area Family of Five Gets First All-Electric Nissan Leaf in Texas

The first Nissan leaf to come to Texas has landed in the hands of a Houston-area family. The family picked up their new ride at a dealership in clear lake. They'll likely be the only one's driving the leaf around here for a while because as Wendy Siegle reports, the production of the car is moving a bit slower than anticipated.
“Last time I bought a car, it wasn’t quite like this.”

Jimmy Sauers and his wife Christy are the first in Texas to own Nissan’s all-electric Leaf. The Sauers have three little girls and live in Seabrook. The family had to wait through speeches and a lot of camera flashes before they were free to drive their shiny blue car home. In ideal conditions the Leaf can go up 130 miles or so on a single charge. The fact that the Leaf has zero tail-pipe emissions was a major part of their decision to sign up for the car.

“We’re a Christian family we believe God gave us this earth to be good stewards of it. And so anytime we can use our resources more efficiently – whether it’s our natural resources or whether it’s our personal finances, or our time, or our energy – we believe that we should use everything as efficiently as possible.”

Laura Spanjian, Houston’s sustainability director, is elated that the first Leaf in Texas will be zipping around Houston’s roads.

“All right! We got the first car in Texas! Is that not so exciting? Have we not all been waiting for this? I have been waiting. You guys better be careful, because I might steal those keys.”

Sauers reserved the Leaf last April, along with a thousand other Texans. He says getting handed the keys has been a long time coming. The other names on Nissan’s reservation list may have to wait a little longer too. Nissan says it probably started its pre-launch reservations of the car a little early. Steve Parrett is a spokesperson with Nissan. He says the demand for the car was a lot higher than expected.

“At the same time though, our production, our manufacturing production ramp up, has been slow. And it typically is slow with a new vehicle, but this one, it’s been even slower. We want to get it right, obviously. So it’s taking us longer to get the vehicles into the pipelines and out to the customers.”

Only one plant is producing the Leafs right now and it’s in Japan. Nissan will start building the cars at its Tennessee facility late next year.

Sauers says he and his wife are going to share the car, which is their second. She’ll drive it when she goes to work at NASA. He’ll drive it three days a week when he commutes to his job at Reliant downtown. They’ll mostly depend on their home-charger to fill up the car’s battery. But Sauers says he’ll use one of the charging stations downtown if he needs to.

NRG Energy is working with the city to make Houston electric-car friendly. The power company is installing 150 charging stations around the area starting in March.

The Leaf will be on display later today at the Houston Auto Show.