2011 Nissan Leaf undergoing IIHS crash test

Electric vehicle owners like to think of themselves as green, but that color may be taking on a more glowing, radioactive hue in Japan.

The ecologically friendly reputation of electric cars in Japan is taking a hit since last year's meltdowns of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have made more people concerned about a primary source of electricity throughout the country, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The meltdown – caused my last March's earthquake and ensuing tsunami – created a 12-mile radius around Fukushima where people are barred because of radiation issues. Before last year's disaster, the Japanese government planned on having nuclear power eventually supply half of the country's electricity, up from a third, but those plans have been put on hold.

Nissan, which has said it expects to sell 1.5 million electric vehicles around the world by 2015, has sold just 12,000 battery-electric Leafs in Japan since launching the model in 2010, according to the report. There have been positive associations drawn between the EV and its role in the earthquake relief efforts (between the Mitsubishi i and the aftermath, too) and Nissan even touted the way some battery packs that were damaged in the quake survived intact.

Rising gas prices make charging an EV in Japan about 90 percent less expensive than filling a tank. That said, electricity prices may spike expenses stemming from fixing the Fukushima plant increase. The higher cost might be the way EVs could get lumped together with nuclear energy in some consumers' minds.