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Will Hawaii be the next “Motor City”?

Move aside Detroit, Korean automaker, CT&T announced plans to build an assembly plant in Hawaii that will eventually produce up to 10,000 vehicles a year. Not only is that good news for the construction industry, the new plant will employ as many as 400 people.

Put me on the list for one of these!

Whoever would have pictured Hawaii as a car building mecca? Geographically, it makes sense as most of the parts used for assembly comes from Asian countries. Also, the electric vehicle  fits into the state’s goal and vision of becoming energy independent.

The plant would make small two seaters that would reach speeds up to 40 mph. “The islands portray themselves to be perfect for our types of vehicles. The speed limits here, 25 to 35, fits perfectly for our types of vehicles.” says Joe White, COO for CT&T.  The batteries will last for 30 – 60 miles, depending on the model. They can be recharged at electric stations that are planned to begin popping up by the end of this year. This, in my opinion, is where we can combine energy efficiency of a home with your home providing electricity for your vehicle. Photovoltaic panels on your rooftops  will allow you to charge your car for free….(this is the Ken Molina prediction)

Could you imagine being pulled over by this police car?

The cars will cost between $8,000 to $20,000 depending on the model and accessories. I wonder if leather will be an option

Besides CT&T, Nissan announced that Hawaii will be one of its first markets to launch sales of its all electric vehicle, the LEAF. Sales are slated to begin early next year. I knew there was a reason why I’ve been holding out in replacing my “97 Infiniti J30. I love it but I’m tired of paying for it at the pump.

Nissan Electric LEAF

On a side note, it was also announced this week that Detroit based, GM, and The Gas Co. have teamed up on a pilot project to test hydrogen refueling technology for fuel cell vehicles here in Hawaii. Charles Freese, Executive Director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities says, “This is the type of enabler that a hydrogen transportation infrastructure needs because it addresses both the source of the hydrogen and a feasible way to deliver it for fuel cell vehicle use. The Hawaii infrastructure could eventually support tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles. Hawaii is uniquely positioned and motivated to make hydrogen powered fuel cell transportation a reality because it depends on petroleum for 90% of its energy.”

The companies will take advantage of The Gas Co.’s existing 1000 miles of existing pipeline on Oahu (neighbor islands may be out of luck on this one). “By delivering hydrogen through our existing infrastructure as vehicle fuel wherever we have gas, The Gas Co. expands its key role in supporting Hawaii’s clean energy future,” said CEO and President of The Gas Co., Jeffrey Kissel. Even Senator Inouye jumped on the bandwagon. He says, “It is an important step forward in the establishment of a hydrogen transportation infrastructure upon which new fleets, both military and civilian, can be tested and utilized. Every step to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is a move forward.” The key word here is military. If it will benefit the military, there is a better chance of follow through.

I’m certain that Hawaii will not only lead, but will be a model for alternative energy. Stay tuned for more exciting news on the energy front. So, all in all, its a great day to live in such an energy progressive state…and you could too!

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