The big fight is coming up.  Nope.  It’s not on HBO.  It’s not UFC, not Heavyweight Boxing, not Phillies/Giants clearing the bench (and never throwing a punch!).  It’s Leaf vs Volt. (NOTE: I used to work for Nissan but this is not a product endorsement…read on…).

That’s right.  Two mass market Electric Vehicles (EV) are coming fast that are moving the conversation from hybrids (gas first, electric second) to primarily electric for Volt, and 100% electric for Leaf.  So what does this have to do with real estate?  Well, plenty.

Right off the bat, get ready to upgrade your garage electricity to allow for overnight charges. An article from plugin.com talks about the changes that are required, and says this about the Leaf needs:

Nissan has chosen AeroVironment, a Southern California company best known for its work on battery-powered planes, to install “home charging docks” specifically for the Leaf. The cost of the charging dock plus labor and installation runs about $2,200; AeroVironment handles all of the permitting and paperwork involved. Federal tax credits may offset half the cost through December 2010, and there are hopes the government may extend it further.

Another article from Automobile Magazine talks about Volt and Leaf…

2011 chevrolet volt home charger install 2 300x187 Blue Going GreenWhile plug-in owners have the option to use aftermarket 240-volt charging equipment and a local electrician, SPX (the Volt’s exclusive retailer and installer of the Voltec 240-volt equipment) and Chevrolet are aiming to create an easy, one-stop shopping experience. Customers will upload photos of their garage and electric service panel through www.homecharging.spx.com/volt as part of an online survey. SPX will then conduct an on-site survey, provide a quote, secure the necessary permit, perform the installation, and assist with the inspection. With SPX installation, the equipment also includes a three-year warranty.

SPX estimates the typical installation will cost $1475. The 240-volt cord set will cost $490.

So I would argue that this is just the tip of the iceberg and you’re the Titanic.  You see, when I lived in California, my washer/dryer was in the garage.  So were our five bikes.  And my tools, including a cool table saw.  And don’t forget the buckets of basketballs, tennis balls, softballs and toys my kids use!  Now in NJ, I have a lawn tractor.  And when all this takes floor space in the garage, you know what happens?  That two car garage becomes a no car garage because we have so much non car stuff in there you can’t park any cars.  According to thefuntimesguide.com, “82% of homes have two-car garages or larger, but only 15% use them to park the car inside.”

So what happens when lawn tractors become electric?  I already charge my power tool batteries, so why not electrify the chain saw and the snow blower?  I can see the day when my garage becomes an Apple store, with all these great gadgets charging away on 240 V (or 220, 221…whatever it takes) from the safety of my two car garage.  Right next to my refrigerator, the true pioneer of garage-based electricity.

2968067069 46e6eca5c1 300x225 Blue Going GreenSo, what does this mean?  Well, if I have to charge my car in the garage, I have to cleanout that garage to make room again for the cars.   It might mean even having to move to get the right garage size and layout needed for all this charging.  Or, add on to the house to make more room for the washer/dryer.   Maybe even buy a new garden shed and put everything there.  Maybe even, just move to a bigger house.  The irony is, of course, that the original non fossil fuel vehicle, my bike, has to go in the shed to make room for the EV.

Now what if  you currently rent or own a home without a garage?  A recent article on “plugins” stated that 80% “is the portion of vehicles that are not parked in a garage owned by the same person that owns the car. They could be parked in rented spots, on the street or in driveways.”  Until the public infrastructure is set-up, or apartment complexes invest in the charging stations, your home is your electricity castle.

So I think this EV launch could be good for real estate, as it changes the way we live our lives and the structures we need to live in.    So gone are the days when home equity loans were used to buy cars…the future might be your choice of car dictating the home you buy.  Could be a true game changer…

Flickr garage photo by rusty.grass