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USA: Electric cars starting to turn heads

Hampstead resident Jack Barnes is a proud owner of a new Nissan Leaf electric car.

Buy Photo Photo by Paul Stephen
By Wayne Faulkner

Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
Jack Barnes took some time this week to put a plug in for his electric car.

He intends the pun. It’s what he likes to say as he conducts a test drive for the uninitiated around his Hampstead neighborhood.

Barnes isn’t timid about quick and quiet takeoffs from stop signs.

“Now I’m doing 60 – where’s the Highway Patrol?” he says with satisfaction as he tries out a straight and empty stretch of U.S. 17.

Barnes is sold on the Nissan Leaf hatchback that he’s owned for about a month.

It wasn’t an impulse purchase.

“I’ve been researching these things for the last 10 years,” Barnes said. “I said long ago that if they ever got one that would do 100 miles I was going to buy it.”

That’s the car’s range on a seven-hour charge, he said. There were 90 miles left as he toured the neighborhood.

“I’ve watched it through the years. You realize that California is wrapped up with these cars, with charging stations all along the road?”

But Barnes is no West Coast youngster.

The eastern North Carolina native, aged 84, has sold Ford tractors, has a degree in agriculture from N.C. State University, has done a farming radio program, was an assistant county agent in Johnston and Person counties and was the agency manager for the Farm Bureau office in Greenville for 25 years.

“A hundred miles, 80 miles will do anything that I want to do,” Barnes said. “I only go to Wilmington and back … or to Jacksonville or Surf City and go to the grocery store.” He recommends it for any commuter who lives within 35 miles of work.


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