The Nissan Leaf is a modern engineering marvel.
Satellite radio, which provides hundreds of static-free radio
stations anywhere in the country, is standard. You can "sync" the car
with your iPhone, which allows remote controlling of the car's heating
and cooling system. The Leaf makes almost the same amount of noise
running as not running. You might also notice the Leaf has no tailpipe.
There's no engine exhaust to pipe out.
Last month, Olivier Chalouhi of Redwood City, California became the
first person in America to own a Leaf... the first mass-produced
electric car priced for broad appeal.
The Leaf recently won the European Car of the Year award, making it
the first electric car to win a major "car of the year" award... an
important milestone for "green" enthusiasts.
However, with a range of just 100 miles per charge in low-speed
city driving – and just 50%-75% of that for highway driving, the Leaf is
a joke in the eyes of your average red-blooded, meat-eating American
"Go ahead and laugh," the Leaf driver might say... "The joke is on the American taxpayer."
The sticker price of the Leaf is around $33,000. But buyers receive
a subsidy from the U.S. government (aka you, the taxpayer) of $7,500 on
a Leaf purchase – a 23% discount.
Whether you like electric cars or not, the government is forcing
you to pay for them. The government wants 1 million new electric cars on
the road by 2015. That works out to $7.5 billion in incentives... an
average of $87 per taxpayer.
I'm interested in the Leaf because it's a part of one of the world's biggest resource trends today: The impending boom of global natural gas consumption.
Here's what folks who go wild over boondoggles like the Leaf don't
realize: We don't generate electricity from the flapping of butterfly
wings or rainbow generators...
We burn coal to generate electricity. We run nuclear plants to
generate electricity. These two sources are responsible for around 70%
of the electricity produced in the U.S.
The Leaf doesn't burn gas... It burns coal.
Right now, natural gas is responsible for 24% of our electrical generation capacity. That's going to rise. As you can see from the Leaf story, the U.S. government wants the nation to go green. One of the ultimate green plays is natural gas.
It's cheap... It's clean... We have abundant supplies of the stuff. It's practically un-American not to burn the heck out of it... And that's exactly what's going to happen over the next several decades.
You see, natural gas is ridiculously cheap... That situation sows
the seeds of higher and higher consumption. If you get in now with the
proper investments, you'll set yourself for big benefits in the coming
In tomorrow's essay
, I'll show you two major drivers of what I expect to be a huge natural gas consumption boom... and how to invest in it.