It’s not a secret that Hawaii is keen to become the most electric car-friendly state in the whole of the U.S. And now two more electric car companies are laying a claim to the electric vehicle market in the island state.

Earlier this week at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo, the state of Hawaii announced it has signed a partnership agreement with Nissan North America to encourage and promote electric cars on the island.

The agreement will lead to the development of an island-wide charging infrastructure for electric vehicles as well as give a $4,500 state tax credit towards the purchase price of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

2011 Nissan Leaf Seat

2011 Nissan Leaf Seat

In addition, Hawaii residents will be able to apply for a further $500 tax credit toward the cost of installing a home charging station, bringing the total state and federal tax incentives  available to over $12,500.

That brings the price of the 2011 Nissan Leaf in Hawaii down to $20,780 after tax credits.

According to Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, the state has set aside $4 million of federal stimulus funds to help pay for the additional $5,000 in Hawaii EV tax credits. This equates to assisting in the purchase of 800 highway-capable electric vehicles on the island.

Nissan has also announced that it will be delivering the 300 Nissan Leafs ordered by Hawaii residents by the end of January 2011.

Just days after this news, Californian-based Coda Automotive has joined the Hawaii electric car club with an announcement that it also plans to start selling the Coda Sedan in Hawaii during the third quarter of 2011.

Hawaii has already spent significant money installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as signing deals with South Korean manufacturer CT&T to build an electric car factory on the island to make low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs).

With so many electric car companies eager to enter the Hawaii market, the state is well on its way to becoming the electric car capital of the U.S.  

State governor Linda Lingle is also keen for the state to ditch its reliance on electricity produced from fossil fuels and hopes the future of Hawaii’s energy security comes from the islands rich geothermal and marine energy sources.

Sign indicating public electric-vehicle charging station

Sign indicating public electric-vehicle charging station

With such small distances to travel from one side of the main island to the other it is conceivable that electric cars could become more popular than gasoline powered cars within ten years or so, but only if appropriate incentives continue.

Missing from the fight to become the EV king of Hawaii is Chevrolet, whose 2011 Volt can travel 40 miles on a single charge.  

It is likely that Chevrolet will not spend much energy fighting for Hawaiian market share when there are very few trips in the state more than the 100 mile range of most electric cars.

[Pacific Biz Journals] [Coda Automotive]