The Leaf, Nissan's all-electric vehicle
The Leaf, Nissan's all-electric vehicle - 
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Steve Chiotakis: Japanese carmaker Nissan starts taking orders today for its all-new electric vehicle called the Leaf. It could be the beginning of a new era for plug-in vehicles, but as Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports, there could still be a few roadblocks.

Alisa Roth: The Nissan Leaf doesn't look like some space-age vision of the future. Philip Reed is an editor at the car-buying list, He says it looks any small four-door car.

Philip Reed: It's the first time that we've been offered a vehicle which could fit into the practicality of the average American family.

He says the Leaf is the first electric car that's big enough and cheap enough to be used by a family. It'll end up costing a little more than $20,000, so it can compete against other compact cars like the Honda Civic.

But it could still take awhile before there's a Leaf in every driveway. Kelly Sims Gallagher is a professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University. She says Nissan's up against two big challenges:

Kelly Sims Gallagher: Do we have the appropriate infrastructure for charging and grid are consumers willing to make these changes in their behavior?

The Leaf can only drive 100 miles before it needs to be recharged, so drivers will have to figure out where they can plug in. Gallagher says cars like the Leaf could also put too much strain on old electricity grids.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.