Mass. electric car owners get specialty plates

State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. unveiled a new license plate for electric cars yesterday.
Massachusetts is only the second state in the country to adopt the specialty plates for electric cars. Sullivan said there are two main reasons for the special plates.
“First is public safety,” he said. “Electric vehicles are quiet and when they are involved in an accident, you can’t tell if it’s running.”
Westfield Fire Chief Mary Regan said knowing a vehicle is electric, or an electric hybrid, is helpful for first responders at an accident scene.
“You can’t tell if the car is running so seeing the plate instead of looking for another sign that it is electric may be helpful,” said Regan.
Regan said it is also good for first responders to know if a car is electric before placing equipment to extricate a person from a vehicle.
“Also, the car might not be running but the airbags could deploy,” said Regan, adding that the department has received training in electric car response.
The second focus of the plate, said Sullivan, centers on the growing trend in communities to offer special parking spaces for electric vehicles.
“Many communities have EV and hybrid parking, and these plates would be required to park there,” Sullivan said.
There are 39,000 electric cars registered in Massachusetts, and that number is growing.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were a total of 3,128,371 automobiles registered in Massachusetts in 2009.
At Jerry Rome Nissan, for example, the electric LEAF is selling well.
“It’s a 100 percent electric vehicle,” General Sales Manager Marcus Lynch said. “It doesn’t even have a tail pipe. It has all of the amenities of a typical car. The only difference is that you don’t have to pull up to a gas pump.”
The LEAF has a range of 100 miles per charge. The charging system is now standard across all brands of electric and hybrid vehicles, a standard that will eventually provide electric-car motorists with a number of charging options.
“The charging stations in Massachusetts have not caught up to the car,” Lynch said. “But soon those charging stations will soon be at malls, schools and other locations” as the electric car options blooms.
“The LEAF is just the beginning of what is to come in this technology,” Lynch said. “It’s a great round-the-town car, a great commuter car and it costs just $3 to charge it for 100 miles of travel.”
The license plate was unveiled at Porter Square Shopping Center in Cambridge, where there is a charging station.
The plates are part of the Patrick administration’s statewide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in transportation that takes advantage of renewable energy sources.
Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian was also on hand for the announcement.

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