Nissan LEAF ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Nissan LEAF

Monday, August 03, 2009

Nissan LEAF

Nissan introduced the LEAF, their lithium powered sedan with the 100 mile range. The LEAF is set to launch in 2010 in Japan, the US and in Europe. Nissan isn't giving anything away yet, but they expect the electric vehicle to be competitively priced in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle.

Nissan expects to mass-market the leaf as a global car by 2012.  At the unveiling, Nissan CEO Ghosn said Nissan's electric vehicle will get a boost from the interest of governments around the world, adding tougher emissions regulations were expected to increase market share of such cars to 5 percent. Hybrid models only make up about 2 percent of the auto market now, he said.

The Leaf seats five and is said to be slightly longer and wider then the Versa.  The electric battery is estimated to cost $10,000 each, so it's hard to imagine right now the car will somehow get down to the price of a conventional gas powered car.  One thought is to lease the battery, rather than buying it outright.  Nissan would charge consumers at about the same rate as it would cost to fill up with gas.

“Nissan LEAF is a tremendous accomplishment – one in which all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “We have been working tirelessly to make this day a reality – the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero – not simply reduced – emissions. It’s the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey – for people all over the world, for Nissan and for the industry.”

The batteries generate power of over 90 kW, which serve the electric motor. The motor will produce 80kW/280Nm of power. There is no tailpipe, which Nissan points out means the electric car will have zero emissions. It should be pointed out, however, that the emissions at the point of source are just being transferred to the point where the electricity was manufactured. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not necessarily a good thing either. Depends on the electricity manufacturer.

An 80% charge can be set in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger, but you should expect a full charge to take up to eight hours (overnight?). That's at a 200V outlet.

"Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only Nissan LEAF but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility," said Masato INOUE, Product Chief Designer.

The design is 'special' according to the press release:
Nissan LEAF’s frontal styling is characterized by a sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, up-slanting light-emitting diode (LED) headlights that employ a blue internal reflective design that announces, “This car is special.” But the headlights do more than make a statement. They are also designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag. And, the headlights provide yet one more benefit in that they consume about 50 percent of the electricity of conventional lamps, which helps Nissan LEAF to achieve its world-class range autonomy.

Through bright trim colors inside, Nissan LEAF creates a pleasing and stylish cabin environment. An environmentally friendly “blue earth” color theme originates from the Aqua Globe body color of Nissan LEAF’s introductory model. This theme is carried into the interior through blue dashboard highlights and instrument illumination.

The advanced IT system, connected to a global data center, provides support and information 24 hours a day. The dash monitor displays 'reachable area' which can be quite important when you have a 100 mile range and you need to make sure you can recharge somewhere. The IT system can be used to show a selection of nearby charging stations.

Mobile phones can be used to set air-conditioning and set charging functions, even when the car itself is shut down. And more importantly, a remote-controlled timer can be pre-programmed to charge at certain hours (important when overnight charging can cost you so much less).

Nissan expects electric vehicle production to reach 200,000 units a year by 2012.

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