On Saturday, Nissan North America Inc. delivered the first Nissan LEAF all-electric vehicle to a California resident who was the first person in the U.S. to place an order for the car.

Olivier Chalouhi, a San Francisco Bay Area resident, is a 31-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Fanhattan, a venture-backed stealth start-up in the connected TV space, where he serves as chief technology officer.

"Electricity is the new fuel for cars, and the Nissan LEAF has the potential to transform the automotive industry and the way people drive," said Carlos Tavares, Chairman, Nissan Americas. "Starting today, drivers have the freedom to choose a future that produces zero tailpipe emissions, moves away from our dependence on fossil fuels, and represents the end of trips to the gas station. This Nissan LEAF delivery is the first of thousands and signifies the dawn of a movement that brings sustainable mobility to within our grasp."

Though the car is zero-emissions, powering it with electricity results in emissions further upstream, though the level of emissions is generally agreed to be lower than the level produced by a gas-powered engine.

The car’s range depends upon speed, temperature, driving conditions, and load, but the company says it ranges from 62 to 138 miles on a full charge. In November, the Environmental Protection Agency named the LEAF the best-in-class mid-size vehicle and gave it a combined rating of 99 mpg, even though the car uses no gas. The EPA sticker credits the car with getting 73 miles on a full charge (requiring seven hours).

In all of its first markets, Nissan has formed partnerships with local, regional and state governments along with utilities to foster the development of electric vehicle-friendly policies and an EV-charging infrastructure.

The initial Nissan LEAF deliveries will be followed by a second shipment of Nissan LEAF electric cars scheduled to arrive on Dec. 20 and destined for consumer driveways in time for the holidays. Nissan is on track for a nationwide launch of the Nissan LEAF by 2012, with Hawaii and Texas next to roll out in early 2011.

On Monday, a new organization, the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative introduced a plan that outlines steps to be ready for up to 1 million plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars by 2020. The report was unveiled at Universal Studios Hollywood where "Back to the Future’s" electric car was first introduced 25 years ago.

The plan, "Taking Charge: Establishing California Leadership in the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Marketplace," was developed by an uncommon alliance and offers 30 suggested actions to build a successful electrified transportation system in California. Diane Wittenberg, executive director and chairman of the group, emphasized, "We aim to address all the questions. It must be simple, simple, simple for consumers to choose plug-in electric vehicles."

The organization’s members include automakers, government agencies, environmental groups, and the American Lung Association.

See "The Smart Grid 2011: More than Meters" in the forthcoming January issue of POWER (available Jan. 4 at www.powermag.com ) for more about electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed for them.

Sources: PR Newswire, autoweek.com, fastcompany.com, , PEV Collaborative, POWERnews