San Francisco Bay Area resident Olivier Chalouhi has become the first person in the world to take delivery of a Nissan LEAF all-electric vehicle. At a special presentation on Saturday at North Bay Nissan of Petaluma in California, Chalouhi, a 31-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur who was the first person in the U.S. to place a LEAF order, took possession of a black LEAF SL in what Nissan described as an historic event representing “the first delivery of an affordable, mass-market, all-electric car since the first days of the automotive era.”

Before purchasing his LEAF, Chalouhi made the 10-mile (16 km) each way commute to work on a homemade electric bicycle. But with two kids he said he wanted a highway capable electric car that could handle two car seats so he could drop them off at school. He says that with the LEAF being the only 100% electric car on the market, his decision to purchase the US$32,780 vehicle was an easy one.

“San Francisco is committed to make the Bay Area the top EV market in America, and the fact that San Francisco is the number one market in the nation for Nissan LEAF ownership reservations is proof we’re on our way,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “We are proud that Bay Area resident is the very first owner of a LEAF, anywhere in the world. We congratulate Olivier Chalouhi and the thousands of other Bay Area residents who soon will be driving electric cars, leading the way to climate friendly transportation.”

The San Francisco Bay Area event kicked off more than a week of festivities, as Nissan delivers the first LEAF vehicles to each of its primary U.S. launch markets in Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Seattle and Tennessee.

In all of these first markets, including Sonoma County, the home of North Bay Nissan, Nissan has formed partnerships with local, regional and state governments along with utilities to foster the development of EV-friendly policies and EV-charging infrastructure.

As part of The EV Project, a research and charging infrastructure deployment program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and the largest EV infrastructure project ever undertaken, Nissan is working with AeroVironment Inc. to supply and install home charging docks for Nissan LEAF customers nationwide, including Chalouhi, as well as first customers in Oregon, Seattle and Tennessee.

The initial U.S. LEAF deliveries will be followed by a second shipment scheduled to arrive on Dec. 20 ahead of a nationwide launch of the LEAF by 2012, with Hawaii and Texas next to roll out in early 2011. To keep up interest and meet demand, Nissan says it plans to reopen U.S. reservations in the first half of 2011 and shift the timing of additional markets until the second half of 2011.

Nissan is due to kick off sales of the LEAF in Japan from Dec. 20 and in select European markets in early 2011, with a release for other global markets set for 2012.