Photo by Paul Neevel

Steve Herron

“I’ve always loved people and I’ve always loved cars,” says Steve Herron, certified Nissan Leaf salesman at Lithia Nissan, who has sold more electric cars than anyone else in Eugene. “The typical Leaf customer asks a jillion questions. The Leaf doesn’t work like a regular gas car, so there’s a bit of a learning curve.” A Bay Area transplant who grew up in San Jose, Herron came north in 1980 to study at Oregon State University. He got a degree in marketing management and computer science from OSU in 1990, then worked on music video production and earned a two-year music-industry degree from the Art Institute of Seattle. He worked in “construction and golfing” in Portland and Eugene until age 44, when his back told him, “No more heavy lifting!” He took a job at Lithia Nissan in 2007. “The economy was taking a turn for the worse,” he notes, “and the job market was competitive.” He persevered while the economy improved and became certified to sell the Leaf in 2013. He points out that the Leaf’s full-charge range of 150 miles makes it most suitable for commuting. “The batteries are happiest between 20 and 80 percent charged,” he adds. “Fuel costs are a fraction of a gas-powered car, and another big benefit is little-to-no maintenance cost.” Electric cars are especially beneficial to the environment in Oregon, where most electricity is generated from hydro and other renewable power sources. “Steve is incredibly knowledgeable about the Leaf, its range, charging, tax credits and battery life intricacies,” says Steve Mital, director of sustainability at the University of Oregon, who recently purchased a Leaf. “It takes two to three times the effort to sell one compared to a conventional car. He does it because he believes in it.”